- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2020

President Trump broke sharply with a top member of his coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Wednesday after the disease specialist urged caution in reopening schools during Senate testimony one day prior.

Mr. Trump complained that Dr. Fauci wants to “play all sides of the equation” and was too hesitant about opening up the country under questioning from the Senate Health Committee.

“I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, it’s just to me it’s not an acceptable answer especially when it comes to schools,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with Colorado and North Dakota leaders in the White House’s Cabinet Room.

Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Wednesday testified states should reopen carefully, to avoid setbacks.

On schools, he said the nation will have to rely on testing strategies to keep students safe this fall, because it would be a “bridge too far” to bank on treatments or a vaccine by then.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, said it would be a mistake to keep schools closed, though Dr. Fauci said they must “be careful, especially when it comes to children.”

While kids have been largely spared from the worst of COVID-19, there is evidence of an inflammatory syndrome that may be linked to the coronavirus.

“I think we better careful [that] we are not cavalier in thinking children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” Dr. Fauci said.

During the hearing, Dr. Fauci did not expressly advocate for keeping schools closed and said he appreciated the harm that keeping kids out of school might have. He also said different parts of the country might have varying approaches to how to reopen their schools.

Mr. Trump said he won’t consider a state open unless the school is open, however.

“I think they should open the schools, absolutely,” the president said. “I think they should. It’s had very little impact on young people. And I think that if you’re an instructor, if you’re a teacher, a professor over a certain age like let’s say 65 or maybe even if you want to be conservative, 60, perhaps you want to stay out for a little while longer. But I think you should absolutely open the schools. Our country has got to get back and it’s got to get back as soon as possible, and I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed.”

The virus has “had very little impact on young people and I would strongly say they should open,” he added. “It’s up to the governors, it’s the governors’ choice, but their state is not open if the schools aren’t open.”

In an interview with Fox Business Network airing Thursday, Mr. Trump says Dr. Fauci is a “very good person” but he sometimes disagrees with the doctor.

I think that we have to open our schools. Young people are very, little affected by this. We have to get the schools open, we have to get our country open, we have to open our country,” he told host Maria Bartiromo. “Now we want to do it safely, but we also want to do it as quickly as possible, we can’t keep going on like this. You’re going to have — you’re having bedlam already in the streets, you can’t do this. We have to get it open. I totally disagree with him on schools.”

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