Politics & Policy

Biden Accuses GOP Governors of Being ‘Cavalier’ about Children’s Health

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan during a speech in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D,C., August 31, 2021. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

One day after introducing sweeping vaccine mandates for private businesses with over 100 workers, federal employees, and health care staff, President Biden denounced Republican governors who have resisted his restrictive, COVID-related edicts.

Speaking at a Washington, D.C. school on Friday, Biden accused certain GOP governors of having an indifferent and dismissive attitude toward the public health needs of their states’ children and residents.

“I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. … we’re playing for real here – this isn’t a game,” he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that as of September 2, seven states have reported zero child deaths related to COVID-19, and that of the 45 states that provided data to the AAP, “0.00 percent-0.03 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death.”

The president’s comments echoed his forceful, frustrated message from Thursday. In an address during which he introduced the new mandates, Biden slammed Republican governors, and the constituents they represent, declaring that “a distinct minority of Americans — supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner.”

Some critics of Biden have called such heavy-handed federal interference in the private sector unconstitutional, while others have noted that Biden’s directive contradicts his earlier position on both vaccine and mask mandates.

“I don’t think it should be mandatory,” Biden said at a December 2020 press briefing in reference to the possibility of vaccine as well as mask requirements.

When asked whether the administration would consider intervening and coercing the unvaccinated in July, White House press secretary Jen Psaki asserted that “that’s not the role of the federal government. That is the role that institutions, private sector entities, and others may take. That certainly is appropriate. Also local communities are going to take steps they need to take.”

While Democratic officials have emphasized the threat COVID poses for children, the fact that remains that members of the young demographic are at minimal risk of developing serious health complications as a consequence of contracting COVID. Moreover, the scientific evidence suggests that mass vaccination for adults has already indirectly protected children.

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