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Education

Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and President Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has been adamant in calling for schools to reopen in the fall, and many Republicans are afraid to publicly disagree with him. But journalist Erin Banco, in an article published by the Daily Beast on August 10, reports that some Trump aides — behind closed doors — are seriously worried about the risks of reopening schools at a time when so many new COVID-19 infections are being reported.

During a recent appearance on Fox News' morning show, Fox & Friends, Trump claimed that children were "virtually immune" to coronavirus — which is nonsense. Children are, in fact, susceptible to COVID-19 and can easily spread it to others even if they don't have any symptoms. And Trump said of the pandemic, "This thing's going away. It will go away like things go away."

A Trump senior official, presumably interviewed on condition of anonymity, is fearing that if schools reopen in the fall, not enough precautions will be taken. That official told the Beast, "If you have Trump going out there and saying everything is fine, there's a risk that that's what people are going to think going back. There's a real possibility that counties won't implement all the measures outlined in the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and will just say, 'Look, we're doing the best we can, and that's it.' There's no one to enforce that stuff."

On Sunday, August 9, news broke that nine people had tested positive for COVID-19 at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia; days earlier, photos of crowded hallways in that school had been posted on social media. And a Trump senior official, discussing that school, told the Beast, "This is exactly what I was afraid of. This is inevitably going to happen when we send kids back to school, but the real question is whether school districts are prepared for this and whether they will take it seriously."

Another Trump official told the Beast that Trump isn't about to change his mind about schools reopening.

"So much emphasis has been put on supporting this idea of getting kids back to school that they aren't going to backpedal down," that official told the Beast.

Trump's aggressive push for schools to reopen comes at a time when Florida, California, Texas and other Sun Belt states are facing a brutal surge in coronavirus infections. Dr. Deborah Birx — who is part of Trump's coronavirus task force, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci — recently warned that the pandemic had entered a "new phase" in the United States and that counties with an increased community spread should not reopen their schools in the fall. Trump was furious, claiming that Birx was caving in to pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

On August 3, Trump tweeted, "So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!"


But the figures speak for themselves. As of early Monday morning, August 10, the COVID-19 death count — according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore — had reached 162,938 in the U.S. and 731,570 worldwide.

The academic year has barely begun, yet several schools have already faced setbacks because of coronavirus outbreaks.

On Monday, Donald Trump reiterated his demand to "Open the Schools!" But Indiana, the first state in the nation to begin its school year, has already seen a number of coronavirus-related incidents.

Elwood Junior-Senior High School closed its doors on Monday just days after reopening after at least one staffer at the school tested positive for coronavirus and other staffers were forced to quarantine, the Indianapolis Star reported.

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