Surgeon General: We need to lower transmission rate of coronavirus to reopen schools

Surgeon General: We need to lower transmission rate of coronavirus to reopen schools
© Today Show

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Tuesday that transmission rates are the most important factor in deciding whether to reopen schools. 

"The biggest determinant of whether or not we can go back to school actually has little to do with the actual schools,” Adams said on "CBS This Morning." “It is your background transmission rate.”

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Adams noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released recommendations for reopening schools, “but again the most important thing is what we do outside of schools before we reopen to lower the transmission rate."

His comments come as school districts across the country face pressure from federal and state governments to come to a decision on whether to reopen. Adams said students face a lower health risk in the event of a premature school reopening, but the stakes are higher for staff and faculty. 

"We know the risk is low to the actual students,” Adams said. “But we know they can transmit to others. … We need to take measures to make sure we protect those who are vulnerable either because they are older or they have chronic medical conditions.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE in recent weeks has pushed hard for schools throughout the country to reopen, and has threatened to withhold federal funding for those school districts that do not do so. Education leaders and advocates argue, however, that school districts lack the federal resources to open schools safely and would require extra funding for sanitization, personal protective equipment and other coronavirus mitigation tools. 

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Adams said he is pleased that the president has adjusted his comments and behavior to welcome face masks in recent days. 

“I'm a physician, not a political pundit,” Adams said. “It doesn't do me any good to get back and forth about the president. What I can tell you is that I'm very pleased that he actually is now wearing a face covering.”

Trump wore a face mask for the first time in public during a visit to Walter Reed Military Medical Center while interacting with wounded service members. 

On Monday, the president tweeted a picture of himself wearing a mask, declaring the act patriotic when people cannot social distance. Health experts are finding increasing evidence that wearing a mask could significantly stem the spread of COVID-19 that is surging in parts of the South and West.