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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego Unified removes President Trump's letter from food baskets

The letter from President Trump was placed into boxes of free groceries to be distributed to some 50 million families nationwide by school districts.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego Unified School District officials said on Tuesday they will be removing a letter from President Trump inserted into food baskets because it "significantly diminishes the scientifically-backed importance of wearing a mask to protect against the transmission of COVID-19." 

The letter from President Trump was placed into boxes of free groceries to be distributed to some 50 million families nationwide by school districts under the USDA Farmers to Family program.

School officials said the district is taking the unprecedented step of removing the letter in order to "protect local families from being misled on how to best safeguard themselves from possibly becoming infected."

According to San Diego Unified, Trump’s letter recommends that Americans practice social distancing “and consider wearing a face covering in public.”

“Science is clear: wearing a mask works to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “Masks are required in California and on every San Diego Unified school campus. It is not optional, as the President wrote in his letter.”

According to San Diego Unified, Marten said the removal will occur as part of the existing delivery process, which requires every box to be opened before distribution. 

School officials said Trustee Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne agrees with Marten and said she was appalled that the Trump Administration was failing to follow state health mandates when communicating to the most disadvantaged students. 

“The COVID-19 virus has disproportionately impacted communities of color,” Dr. Whitehurst-Payne said. “Not only are we facing higher rates of infection and mortality from the coronavirus, we have also been the hardest hit in terms of unemployment and hunger. To take advantage of that suffering by distributing misleading medical information is appalling. This is equivalent to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in terms of the level of contempt demonstrated towards our community.”

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black people and Hispanic or Latino people were both about 4.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic white people.

According to the press release, Dr. Whitehurst-Payne said “more than 60,000 school-age children in the State of California have been infected with the coronavirus, and no one knows what the long-term health effects of that will be.” Dr. Whitehurst-Payne also stated that it was "extremely irresponsible" for the president "to imply that only people over 80 need to be protected from the virus.”