President Trump on Wednesday continued to push for schools to physically reopen in the fall, asserting that the novel coronavirus is “going away.”
“My view is the schools should open. This thing is going away,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends” in a phone interview Wednesday morning, referring to the coronavirus. “It will go away like things go away and my view is that schools should be open.”
Cases have been falling over the past two weeks in some states that had experienced heavy outbreaks this summer, such as Florida, Texas and Arizona.
But those numbers are falling from high plateaus, and there is a danger the numbers could rise again if people do not take precautions, given what the country has seen over the summer.
Florida, as one example, recorded more than 60,000 cases of the coronavirus last week. It is one of 24 states that recorded at least 5,000 cases last week. Texas recorded more than 57,000 cases, and Arizona recorded more than 16,000.
Cases also were rising last week in 21 other states.
Trump went on to assert falsely that children are “almost immune” from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, adding that they have stronger immune systems than older individuals do with respect to the virus.
“It doesn’t have an impact on them and I have watched some doctors say they’re totally immune,” Trump said of children. “The fact is that they are virtually immune from this problem and we have to open our schools.”
Children can get COVID-19, but evidence suggests that they are less likely than older individuals to experience severe symptoms or die. Health experts say that the virus is most threatening to older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.
Trump later said that teachers in older age groups should not go into school until coronavirus infections subside, before touting progress on a potential vaccine for the virus and therapeutics. Trump at one point during the interview asserted that Democrats do not want to open schools “because they think it’s going to hurt the election for the Republicans.”
Trump has pushed for states and localities to physically reopen schools in the fall for several weeks, despite concerns from public health experts about the risk of in-person classes potentially spreading the disease, particularly in high-risk areas. A number of school districts are already planning to implement virtual learning for the start of the academic year, including schools in Washington, D.C. Trump acknowledged last week that he couldn’t offer assurances that holding in-person classes would be safe.
Public health officials have advocated for schools to physically reopen, but say that safety needs to come first. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said on CNN over the weekend that areas seeing large increases in infections need to get the cases under control before reopening schools.
“In the areas where we have this widespread case increase, we need to stop the cases and then we can talk about safely reopening,” Birx said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“If you have high caseload and active community spread, just like we are asking people not to go to bars, not to have household parties, not to create large spreading events, we are asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control,” she continued.
A number of states have seen a resurgence of coronavirus infections over the past month, forcing some state and local leaders to pause or rollback plans to reopen businesses and order individuals to wear masks in public places. More than 4.7 million Americans in total have been infected with the coronavirus, and the virus has contributed to more than 156,000 deaths in the United States.