The issue of whether students should return to schools and universities in September is emerging as a flashpoint in the standoff between the White House and medical experts over how quickly to reopen the country.
Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said he found Fauci’s latest call for a highly cautious reopening “not acceptable.”
“We’re opening our country, people want it open, the schools are going to be open,” Trump said.
US President Donald Trump deepened his rift with top medical advisor Anthony Fauci over loosening coronavirus restrictions, saying they "totally" disagree on whether to keep schools closed https://t.co/S15BMTQBvP
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 13, 2020
Fauci, an internationally respected expert on infectious diseases and a key advisor to Trump throughout the pandemic, testified in Congress on Tuesday that ending the lockdown too quickly could bring “really serious” consequences.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” he said.
This was starkly at odds with Trump’s push to put the health emergency behind him and focus on getting the US economy back open. That view is gaining momentum as businesses struggle to stay solvent and millions of Americans register for unemployment relief.
Fauci warned that opening too early could allow the highly contagious and deadly virus to resume spreading and this “could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.”
Adding to the high stakes is the November election, in which Trump is arguing he will steer the country back to healthy economic times, while his Democratic opponent Joe Biden accuses the Republican of mishandling the pandemic and so worsening the fallout.
So far, Trump has stuck with Fauci, but the doctor is increasingly in the background as the president pushes his reopening message.
“Anthony is a good person, a very good person. I’ve disagreed with him,” Trump said in a segment of an interview on Fox Business Network due to air early Thursday.
“I think that we have to open our schools,” Trump said in the interview.
“We have to open our country. 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 having bedlam already in the streets,” he said.
“I totally disagree with him on schools.”
Dr Fauci warns of ”needless suffering & deaths”
Dr Anthony Fauci Tuesday warned the Senate the United States will see “needless suffering and death” from the coronavirus if it tries to reopen too soon, The New York Times reported.
Fauci, who has become the trusted face of the government’s virus response, is one of four top medical experts testified remotely at a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
“The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” Fauci wrote in an email to The New York Times late Monday.
“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. The Trump deepening rift with Fauci is the main problem.
“This will not only result in needless suffering and death but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal,” said Fauci, a leader of the White House coronavirus task force.
Fauci himself is in “modified quarantine” after Vice President Mike Pence’s spokeswoman — who he had no close contact with — tested positive. The Trump deepening rift with Fauci is the main problem.
“Opening Up America Again” is the administration’s guidelines on a three-phase approach to help state and local officials reopen their economies while observing medical advice on limiting the spread of the virus.
"Anthony is a good person, a very good person. I've disagreed with him,"
What the hell are you talking about? https://t.co/ct1ftSdvPi
— Kevin 洪肇均 (@kev_kag) May 14, 2020
Among the administration’s requirements before moving to a phased comeback, states should have a “downward trajectory” of documented cases or positive tests, as a percentage of total tests, over two weeks.
There should be a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers, with asymptomatic cases screened as well, and contacts of positive cases traced.
President Donald Trump is pressing for a quicker reopening of the US economy, which has been hammered by the fallout from mass lockdowns and social distancing.
AFP with additional input from GVS News Desk