“By trying to bury what the CDC recommends, Trump is betraying every student, teacher, and parent in this country. Shame on him. Shame on those who enable him.”
The leader of one of the largest teachers’ unions in the U.S. accused President Donald Trump over the weekend of “trying to bury” federal guidelines warning that fully reopening schools and universities in the fall poses a high risk of spreading Covid-19 and endangering the health of students, faculty, and parents.
A 69-page packet (pdf) of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention materials obtained by the New York Times and labeled “For Internal Use Only” cautions that the “more people a student or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of Covid-19 spread.”
“Trump suppressed a CDC report that concluded ‘fully opening schools and universities remained the highest risk for the spread of coronavirus. Trump, Pence, DeVos had this report and said the exact opposite.”
—Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
The documents, many of which had already been posed online, warn that “full-sized, in-person classes” present the “highest risk” of spreading coronavirus compared to virtual courses and small classes in which students remain at least six feet apart at all times.
The packet, according to the Times, “was among material for federal response teams that are being dispatched to hot spots around the country for short periods of time.”
While it’s “unclear whether Mr. Trump saw the document,” the Times reported, “what is clear is that federal health experts are using a road map that is vastly different from what Mr. Trump wanted.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, slammed Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for recklessly pushing to reopen schools as federal experts privately warned of the severe risks of doing so without a clear safety plan.
“Trump suppressed a CDC report that concluded ‘fully opening schools and universities remained the highest risk for the spread of coronavirus,” Weingarten tweeted Saturday. “Trump, Pence, DeVos had this report and said the exact opposite. His intentional lies will endanger thousands.”
By trying to bury what the CDC recommends, Trump is betraying every student, teacher and parent in this country. Shame on him. Shame on those who enable him. https://t.co/mLDfLWsq0Y
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) July 11, 2020
Last week, Trump complained on Twitter that non-binding school reopening guidelines offered by the CDC—which recommends that students maintain six feet of distance from each other and wear face coverings—are “very tough” and “expensive.”
In an apparent attempt to mollify the president—who also threatened to cut off funding to schools that don’t reopen—Pence said during a press briefing last Wednesday that the CDC plans to release new documents “giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.” CDC director Robert Redfield said in an interview the following day that the new documents would not alter the agency’s existing guidelines.
During an interview Sunday morning on CNN‘s “State of the Union,” DeVos repeatedly refused to say whether schools should follow the CDC’s reopening guidelines and claimed “there’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calls on schools to reopen despite CDC guidelines that say children meeting in groups can put everyone at risk: “There is going to be the exception to the rule. But the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/XDwaFdjLCX
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 12, 2020
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) ripped DeVos for offering “no plan” to safely reopen schools as “teachers, kids, and parents are fearing for their lives.”
“You point to a private sector that has put profits over people and claimed the lives of thousands of essential workers,” Pressley tweeted. “I wouldn’t trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child.”
Trump administration says US would share COVID vaccine with world after America’s needs are met
On Monday, Fox News reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is offering to share any potential COVID-19 vaccine with other countries, after it stabilizes public health in the United States.
"The U.S. will share any coronavirus vaccine it develops with the globe after American needs are met, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday during a visit to Taiwan," reported Evie Fordham.
"Our first priority of course is to develop and produce enough quantity of safe and effective FDA-approved vaccines and therapeutics for use in the United States," said Azar. "But we anticipate having capacity that, once those needs are satisfied, those products would be available in the world community according to fair and equitable distributions that we would consult in the international community on ... After our departure from the WHO, we will work with others in the world community to find the appropriate vehicles for continuing to support, on a multilateral and bilateral basis, global public health on the order that the United States has done in the past."
Experts issue dire warning on Trump executive action on unemployment insurance
"Literally every new detail about these executive orders confirms that in addition to being wildly unconstitutional, they will do absolutely nothing to help anyone who's suffering."
On top of serious questions about the directive's legality and workability, experts are warning that President Donald Trump's executive action to extend the federal boost to unemployment benefits at $400-per-week—using $44 billion in funds meant for disaster relief—leaves out the poorest Americans by design.
Senior officials battling White House over urgent risk of reopening schools
Public health officials are increasingly worried that states -- especially in the South -- are not seriously considering the coronavirus risks associated with reopening schools.
Trump administration officials have insisted to governors that reopening schools could be done safely, but senior officials have recently pressed White House officials to improve their messaging about the potential risks, reported The Daily Beast.
“If you have Trump going out there and saying everything is fine there’s a risk that that’s what people are going to think going back,” said one senior official. “There’s a real possibility that counties won’t implement all the measures outlined in the [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines and will just say, ‘Look, we’re doing the best we can and that’s it.’ There’s no one to enforce that stuff.”