Many Americans enduring the COVID-19 lockdown have been itching to get schools and stores reopened as quickly as possible. Now, President Trump has joined the chorus of those calling for the speedy re-opening of US schools. Responding to a warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci that opening schools too early could increase the spread of the virus, Trump called the coronavirus expert’s recommendations “not acceptable.”
A Warning From Dr. Fauci
Trump made the statements to reporters on Wednesday, May 13, following Dr. Fauci’s congressional testimony on Tuesday regarding the ongoing crisis.
In his testimony, Dr. Fauci responded to arguments that, since COVID-19 has been found to be less severe in children, schools should re-open as soon as possible.
“I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” Dr. Fauci said, according to HuffPost. “You’re right in the numbers that children, in general, do much, much better that adults and the elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease.”
Trump Pushes Back
In his Wednesday statement to press, Trump expressed dissatisfaction with the doctor’s statements. “I was surprised by his answer, actually,” he told reporters, “because you know it’s just, to me, it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
The president went on to insist that schools should re-open due to the low “impact” of the virus on young people.
“It’s had very little impact on young people. And I think that if you’re an instructor, if you’re a teacher, a professor over a certain age – let’s say 65, or maybe even if you want to be conservative, 60 – perhaps you want to stay out for a little while longer.”
The next day, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Trump’s position to the press.
“The president has a number of experts he takes into consultation and he decides what is best to go forward,” McEnany told reporters. “The president regularly talks to the doctors. […] He ultimately makes the decision as to how to move forward. After all, he was elected by the American people to do just that.”
Lower Risk in Children?
Research has suggested that, while children with COVID-19 often exhibit less severe symptoms, they are just as likely to spread the illness to others. Last month, a German study examined viral loads in a number of COVID-19 patients, including children. The study found no significant difference between child and adult patients.
“Based on these results, we have to caution against an unlimited reopening of schools and kindergartens in the present situation,” the study read. “Children may be as infectious as adults.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci warned in his congressional testimony of the potential consequences of re-opening the economy too quickly. “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Dr. Fauci said, “which in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.”