President Donald Trump wants U.S. schools to reopen as soon as possible, citing the success of such measures in other countries. But not everyone is in a hurry to send kids back into the classroom as coronavirus cases surge across the nation. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, says that U.S. children are more likely than kids in other countries to have underlying medical conditions. Reopening schools too soon will increase their risk of getting severely sick with COVID-19.
According to CNBC, Trump said that schools in “Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, along with many other countries” were “open with no problems.” But Gottlieb countered that about 6 million children in America suffer from asthma according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, and Blacks are twice as likely to be sufferers as whites. Asthma at any age can increase COVID-19 complications.
The former commissioner also said that those countries Trump mentioned had their coronavirus cases under control before they reopened classrooms. Meanwhile, the number of new cases in the U.S. continues to set new daily records with no end in sight as America suffers the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world.
NBC News reports that not all cases of school openings around the world have been successful. In Israel, only weeks after reopening, 87 schools were forced to close after 300 staff and students tested positive for COVID-19.
Even locally, we’ve seen transmission of the disease in classroom settings.
According to the New York Post, three Arizona summer school teachers became infected with the coronavirus even though they followed the recommended safety protocols. One of them, 61-year-old Kimberly Chavez Lopez Byrd died. The two other teachers who tested positive for the virus are still suffering from COVID-19 complications.
Gottlieb added that American children have more comorbidity illnesses such as obesity, asthma and diabetes, than kids in other countries. These are factors that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness and mortality. He also said that we need to take into account so-called hotspots where the coronavirus is flourishing before opening classroom doors.
“I think it’s going to be very hard for certain states or certain cities right now to reopen on time,” he said, adding that Arizona has already decided to delay the reopening of its school system. “It’s going to be much easier to open schools this fall in Massachusetts or Maryland of Michigan than in Miami or Houston right now.”
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