Aug 4, 2020 - Health

Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots shouldn't

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at Capitol Hill in July. Photo Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Monday schools and colleges should be able to reopen for in-person classes, but they must take precautions to ensure the safety of students and teachers during the pandemic, per CNN.

Of note: Students benefit psychologically from being in a classroom, Fauci said. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for in-person classes resuming, noting in a statement the mental health benefits of doing so. "[T]here is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020."

Zoom in: In a separate interview with the JAMA Network Monday, Fauci expanded on comments he made last week that "if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it" by recommending that teachers wear face shields.

  • This is because while young children may be less susceptible to COVID-19, they're capable of spreading it as they can have a "have a higher viral load in their nasal pharynx," he said.

Yes, but: Fauci said during a video conference with physicians and medical students at New Hampshire's Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Monday that schools in coronavirus hot spots should not reopen.

  • "There may be some areas where the level of virus is so high that it would not be prudent to bring the children back to school," he said.
  • "So you can't make one statement about bringing children back to school in this country, it depends on where you are."

The bottom line: Fauci told the Journal of the American Medical Association's Howard Bauchner in the JAMA Network interview that with the U.S. reporting 50,000 to 60,000 new cases per day "we're going to have a really bad situation in the fall," unless the numbers decrease.

  • Getting the daily case number down to 10,000 by next month would enable the U.S. to regain a level of control, he said.

By the numbers: More than 155,400 people have died of COVID-19 and over 4.7 million have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday morning.

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