Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Is Dr. Anthony Fauci's credibility in tatters after he seemingly buckled to political pressure and endorsed opening schools amidst COVID-19 pandemic?

Dr. Athony Fauci

Has Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's most prominent infectious-diseases expert, sullied his credibility by stating U.S. schools should be able ro open safely this fall despite the coronavirus pandemic? Have persistent bullying from Donald Trump -- and reported threats against Fauci and his family -- created a level of intimidation that caused Fauci to jump on the Trump Train to open schools, consequences be damned?

Those questions came to mind earlier this week after Fauci, the nation's most trusted voice on the COVID-19 crisis, said schools should be able to open safely, in the face of published reports suggesting that is not likely to happen. From an article at CNN:

Schools and college campuses across the country should be OK to reopen, but officials need to proceed with caution and make safety a priority, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

The default position with K-12 schools should be to reopen them, said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

There are two big reasons schools should go back to in-person learning, Fauci said Monday. Students need the psychological and nutritional benefits of being in school, and parents may have to "dramatically modify their work schedule."

Notice that the "two big reasons" Fauci cites for reopening schools have nothing to do with safety of children, teachers, administrators, or others in the classroom environment. This doesn't sound like the same guy Americans have come to trust as a straight shooter. And what about those ominous reports Fauci seems to be ignoring? One comes from the Chicago Tribune, under the headline "Children may carry high levels of the coronavirus, up to 100 times as much as adults, new Lurie Children’s Hospital study finds":

It has been a comforting refrain in the national conversation about reopening schools: Young children are mostly spared by the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it to others, at least not very often.

But Thursday, a study introduced an unwelcome wrinkle into this smooth narrative.

Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to the research. Indeed, children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults, the authors found.

That measurement does not necessarily prove that children are passing the virus to others. Still, the findings should influence the debate over reopening schools, several experts said.

“The school situation is so complicated. There are many nuances beyond just the scientific one,” said Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, who led the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics. “But one takeaway from this is that we can’t assume that just because kids aren’t getting sick, or very sick, that they don’t have the virus.”

From a commentary by Mark Karlin at BuzzFlash:

Indeed, the CDC, which just a few days ago succumbed to the political pressure of the Trump White House and announced that schools were safe to open, has now, just a short time later, come to the inevitable recognition of what the scientific data reveals: “A new [CDC] report suggests that children of all ages are susceptible to coronavirus infection and may also spread it to others….”

BuzzFlash has written two recent commentaries on actual statistics from the most pro-Trump pandemic raging Red States that indicate widespread presence of the Coronavirus among young people, including infants, 1-10 year olds and teenagers. There are many examples of transmission between adults and children at summer camps, and even at daycare centers. We do know that more than 1300 confirmed infections occurred in Texas child care centers. That includes 441 children. The numbers have risen as Texas, one of the states exploding with Coronavirus, has experienced increasing infection.

In addition, many summer camps experienced large cluster outbreaks among students and camp counselors. The Daily Beast reported on July 31 that a Georgia overnight camp opened on June 21 and closed on June 27 because 76 percent of the campers who were tested for the Coronavirus came back positive. Other campers, with a median age of 12, still remain to be tested, which means the positivity rate may still be higher.

The other troubling report comes from a Washington Post op-ed by Arizona school superintendent Jeff Gregorich:

This is my choice, but I’m starting to wish that it wasn’t. I don’t feel qualified. I’ve been a superintendent for 20 years, so I guess I should be used to making decisions, but I keep getting lost in my head. I’ll be in my office looking at a blank computer screen, and then all of the sudden I realize a whole hour’s gone by. I’m worried. I’m worried about everything. Each possibility I come up with is a bad one.

The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We’re 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there’s a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it’s going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?

Some of these kids are out in the wilderness right now, and school is the best place for them. We all agree on that. But every time I start to play out what that looks like on August 17th, I get sick to my stomach. More than a quarter of our students live with grandparents. These kids could very easily catch this virus, spread it and bring it back home. It’s not safe. There’s no way it can be safe.

If you think anything else, I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy. Kids will get sick, or worse. Family members will die. Teachers will die.

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