Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a virtual coronavirus briefing on Wednesday that the Biden administration is not tracking the number of teachers who died from COVID-19, even though a national debate continues to rage regarding the safety of reopening public schools.
Fauci, the administration’s chief medical adviser and the country’s lead immunologist, told Mediate’s Tommy Christopher that neither the administration nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knew how many teachers or persons “in teacher households” had either died or become ill from COVID.
“I don’t have any information on that specifically,” said Fauci. “I have not seen it broken down on number of teachers who have died. I don’t think that information is readily available. I might be wrong.”
Fauci then swung it to Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, head of the CDC, who also said that specific information was not being tracked. She went on to explain, however, that any introduction of the virus in schools “comes from the community” and does not originate in the schools themselves.
Several studies have shown that children and young people rarely transmit COVID-19 and if they contract the virus, they almost always have very mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.
In a follow-up, Christopher asked Fauci whether he agreed with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris that vaccinating teachers should be prioritized before reopening schools, but he said that was “impractical.”
He went on to say despite that, some experts “feel strongly that we should try as best as we possibly can to vaccinate teachers, and they should be as a high priority within the area of essential personnel.”
“Even though we don’t feel that every teacher needs to be vaccinated before you can open a school, that doesn’t take away from the fact that we strongly support the vaccination of teachers,” Fauci continued.
“When you see infections in the school setting, personnel or students, that it is really reflective of what is going on in the community, not a very special situation of a particular super-spreading type of situation in a school,” he added, echoing Walensky’s previous statement.
Teacher’s unions have resisted calls from state and local officials to return to in-person classes, claiming that it’s not safe to do so during the pandemic.
The CDC, however, has said that reopening schools is safe, though the agency’s guidelines have been criticized as impractical.
“The CDC’s new COVID-19 guidelines for reopening schools claim to be scientific. But they further harm children by creating overly burdensome recommendations,” writes Dr. Marty Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Fox News medical contributor, wrote Thursday.
“Defying science, the guidelines create testing and distancing requirements so extreme it makes consistent in-person learning unachievable for the vast majority of schools in America today,” he added.
Makary noted that just three weeks ago, the CDC published a detailed analysis of studies from the U.S. and around the world, concluding “there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”
He went on to say that if the new CDC recommendations “substituted the word influenza for COVID, we might see schools close every year in perpetuity,” adding that “no healthy child” has died from COVID-19, according to a study he co-authored.
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