Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, urged caution during Tuesday’s Senate HELP Committee hearing about children returning to school in the fall—a position that President Trump strongly disagrees with.
“We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children,” Fauci told the committee, noting that decisions on reopening will be different from one geographic area to the next.
“[T]he idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the re-entry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far," he added.
Fauci warned that reopening key parts of society too soon, such as schools, could lead to a spike in outbreaks.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Fauci said.
Trump recognizes, however, that Americans cannot continue like this for much longer.
“So [Dr.] Anthony [Fauci] is a good person, a very good person – I've disagreed with him,” Trump told FOX Business's Maria Bartiromo. “We have to get the schools open, we have to get our country open, we have to open our country. Now we want to do it safely, but we also want to do it as quickly as possible, we can't keep going on like this … You're having bedlam already in the streets, you can't do this. We have to get it open. I totally disagree with him on schools.”
During a press briefing Wednesday, Trump said he doesn’t consider the country “coming back” if schools do not reopen.
Though there has been concern about an illness in children that may be linked to COVID-19, they generally are much less likely to become seriously ill from the virus than adults.
Indeed, noting that the mortality rate in children “approaches zero,” Sen. Rand Paul argued that it would be “ridiculous” to not send kids back to school in the fall.
"If we keep kids out of school for another year, what's going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don't have a parent that's able to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year," Paul said. "I think it's a huge mistake if we don't open the schools in the fall."
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