In the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and for Vice President Joe Biden, the POTUS discussed his 14-year-old son Barron contracting COVID-19 earlier this month as he pushed for schools to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have to open the schools," Trump said. "As an example: I have a young son. He also tested positive. By the time I spoke to the doctor the second time he was fine. It just went away. Young people, I guess it's their immune system." And yet Barron's recovery from COVID-19 ignores the statistics that show that the children who do become seriously ill or die from the virus are largely minorities.
Trump reiterated the need to reopen schools several times throughout the debate, largely without addressing Biden's calls to do so only when resources were available to address issues such as poor ventilation and enact appropriate social distancing unaddressed. Certainly, parents, teachers, and children throughout the country would love nothing more than to get back to normal. But a poll from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation indicates that 61% of voters are against full, in-person... and with good reason.
While children do, mercifully, appear to be less affected by COVID-19 overall than the general population, rising numbers, which have already prompted school suspension of in-person learning in some districts, including Boston, have parents and teachers worried. And this worry is most significant for minority children, who represent the majority of children who have died from the virus, as NPR reported in September.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a staggering 78% of children who have died of COVID-19 between February and July were Black, Hispanic, or Native American. The numbers, admittedly, are relatively low — 121 deaths among 390,000 cases — but the picture we are seeing in those deaths holds tremendous significance, painting a sobering picture of the children and families we put at risk with precipitous openings.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.