The director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said Sunday that the Trump administration’s threats to issue an “ultimatum” for schools to reopen in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic is the “wrong approach.”
Tom Inglesby told “Fox News Sunday” that he disagreed with President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE’s and Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosMnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book Republicans look to education as winning issue after Virginia successes McAuliffe rolls out new ad hitting back at Youngkin on education MORE’s warnings that schools that do not reopen in the fall may not receive federal funding.
“I think issuing an ultimatum for schools opening is the wrong approach,” he said.
Inglesby instead said the “right way to go” would be guiding and helping schools financially and urging them to follow both federal and state public health guidance.
The public health expert warned there are still “uncertainties” about how the virus could be transmitted in schools, saying experts won’t “know all the answers.” He also urged schools to be prepared to “react to what we find.”
Inglesby acknowledged that children are at lower risk of serious infection than adults, although not at zero risk, as some children have died in the U.S.
“What’s less clear is how efficiently kids will spread the virus in school both to each other and teachers, adults and parents,” he said.
He noted that it has been “relatively uncommon” for schools in other countries to experience outbreaks, but they have occurred. He also said most countries with reopened schools have “much less transmission” than the U.S. does currently.
“I think our incentives are all aligned in the sense that everyone really wants schools to open safely but mandating it under a very tight timeline such as what happened in Florida this week ... seems really like the wrong approach to me,” he said.
Inglesby’s comments come after DeVos told Fox News host Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonRittenhouse says he's destroying gun used in fatal Kenosha shootings NBA's Enes Kanter: Americans criticizing their country should 'keep their mouth shut' The serious and growing danger of vigilantism MORE last week that she is “very seriously” considering withholding federal funding from schools that do not reopen in the fall.
The president followed suit, tweeting about cutting funding to schools that do not reopen in the fall. He has also criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for being too tough for schools to reopen.
COVID-19 cases have been increasing in recent weeks, with the U.S. recording its highest daily amount on Friday with 68,241. The U.S. has confirmed more than 3.2 million COVID-19 cases, leading to at least 134,815 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.