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Photo: Michael Loccisano via Getty Images

Twenty-three AAPI civil rights groups led by the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans are calling on the administration to take extra caution as it prepares results from its investigation into the origins of COVID.

Why it matters: In late May, the Biden administration launched a 90-day probe into COVID's origins amid controversy over the lab leak theory. In a letter delivered to President Biden on Thursday, advocates warn the "simple existence of that report will put our communities at risk."

  • Of the 9,000-plus anti-Asian hate incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate since March 2020, nearly half included anti-Chinese or anti-immigrant rhetoric, according to the reporting center.

What they're saying: "We recognize your Administration’s legitimate interest in identifying the source of this pandemic," reads the letter, which is signed by leaders from the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, Asian American Psychological Association and Stop AAPI Hate, among others. "At the same time, perception matters. And when your review was announced, many interpreted it as a validation of the so-called 'lab leak' theory."

  • Those who perpetrate such "conspiracy theories" aren't interested in what actually happened, the signatories argue.
    • "[T]hey aim to deflect criticism about the early U.S. response to the pandemic and direct blame at China and, by extension, Asian Americans," the letter states, adding they are often the same people "who use racist monikers for the virus and demonize immigrants."
  • The coalition pushed the administration to "use precise language" when discussing COVID, such as specifying "Chinese government" rather than simply saying "Chinese."

Worth noting: The letter also asks Biden to address language barriers in victim assistance and end the Justice Department's China Initiative, which has come under fire for alleged racial profiling.

Go deeper

Oct 23, 2021 - Health

Benefits of COVID vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says

A nurse gives a girl a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lyman High School in Longwood on the day before classes begin for the 2021-22 school year. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Food and Drug Administration regulators said Friday that the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children far outweigh the risks for children ages 5 to 11.

Why it matters: The announcement could add momentum to the FDA's authorization of doses for children on an emergency basis, which could happen as early as next week, according to the New York Times.

Utah school district ignored widespread racial harassment, DOJ says

The U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Utah school district intentionally ignored racial harassment and abuse for years despite repeated complaints, the Justice Department said this week.

Why it matters: An investigation launched in 2019 revealed "persistent failures to respond to reports of race-based harassment of Black and Asian American students by district staff and other students," according to the DOJ.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.