White House officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx held a panel on Tuesday to discuss reopening schools this fall. Azar seemed confident about reopening schools with proper precautions come September, but gave a dangerous and downright false explanation for why he supports doing so.
"Health-care workers don't get infected because they take appropriate precautions. They engage in social distancing, wear facial coverings," Azar explained Tuesday, saying if "you can do all of this, there's no reason schools have to be in any way any different." But Azar's claim simply isn't true. Thousands of health-care workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and hundreds have died of the virus, though there's no official count of just how many have contracted the disease. Those are also trained health-care professionals — children surrounded by friends they haven't seen in months surely won't be as disciplined when it comes to social distancing and school staff lack the training and expertise of nurses and doctors.
President Trump demanded "schools must open in the fall" in a Monday tweet, and DeVos responded that he was "absolutely right." Trump's tweet came not long after Harvard University and other colleges began announcing their intentions to go fully remote this fall. Trump will deliver remarks on reopening schools later Tuesday.