Biden slams governors 'politicizing' masks in schools

Biden slams governors 'politicizing' masks in schools
© Whitehouse.gov

President BidenJoe BidenMarcus Garvey's descendants call for Biden to pardon civil rights leader posthumously GOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors MORE on Thursday decried governors who have imposed bans on mask requirements in schools and said the "heroes" are the health care workers and local leaders who have pushed back on those edicts.

"I know there are a lot of people out there trying to turn a public safety measure — that is, children wearing masks in school so they can be safe — into a political dispute. But this isn’t about politics. This is about keeping our children safe," Biden said at the top of remarks on lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

Biden referenced a viral video of health care workers in Tennessee who were harassed after they spoke at a school board meeting and advocated for the benefits of requiring children wear masks during the school day. The video showed a group of parents in Franklin surrounding and heckling the health care professionals while they were leaving a building during a Williamson County School District Board meeting.

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"Our health care workers are heroes," Biden said. "They were the heroes when there was no vaccine. They’re doing their best to care for the people who are refusing to get vaccinated. And unvaccinated folks are being hospitalized and dying as a result of not being vaccinated.

"To the mayors, school superintendents, local leaders who are standing up to the governors politicizing mask protection for our kids: thank you," Biden said. "Thank you as well. Thank God that we have heroes like you. And I stand with you all, and America should as well."

Schools have emerged as the new battleground in the mask wars as millions of children prepare to return to classrooms in the coming weeks.

Some GOP governors, such as Florida's Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Memo: Media obsess over Trump's past as he eyes comeback DeSantis proposes civilian Florida State Guard military force he would control Haley hits the stump in South Carolina MORE and Greg Abbott of Texas, have issued orders barring local school districts from requiring masks in the classroom. DeSantis has even threatened to withhold funding if schools go forward with mask mandates.

Although children have made up about 0.1 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, more and more young kids have become infected with serious symptoms as the more contagious delta variant spreads across the country.

More than 1,400 children were hospitalized with the coronavirus in the most recent week of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reaching a record seven-day average of 239 pediatric admissions per day.