Milwaukee 9-year-old’s virus fears lead to White House visit

December 19, 2021 GMT

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Milwaukee third grader whose fears about COVID-19 were alleviated by President Joe Biden when he came to Wisconsin for a televised town hall came away from the encounter with both comfort and joy.

The joy came when Layla Salas and her family, at the president’s invitation, attended the holiday open house at the White House on Saturday. The 9-year-old girl told the Journal Sentinel that her favorite part of the tour was seeing the Green Room filled with Christmas trees decorated with purple.

“It was better than a cookie on a hot summer day,” she exclaimed.

It all started in February when her mom, Jessica Salas, asked Biden on behalf of Layla when the vaccine would be available for kids. Biden responded directly to Layla, explaining that kids were not at a high of a risk of getting severe COVID-19 infection and that the vaccine for children wasn’t ready just yet.


“Don’t be scared, honey. Don’t be scared. You’re going to be fine, and we’re going to make sure mommy’s fine, too,” Biden said.

Said Layla afterward, “I felt really, really, really happy when he said that I was going to be OK.”

Once she and her little brother, Mateo, were both fully vaccinated, the family sent a note to the president’s staff, thanking them for their part in making it possible. The White House responded with the offer to attend the party.