Former Rep. Claudia Tenney is demanding that schools reopen in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
A Republican congressional candidate has suggested that children go back to school during the coronavirus pandemic based on the fact that children attended school before vaccines were invented.
"Children have a greater ability to develop immunities to this virus based on the evidence we have so far," Claudia Tenney, a former member of Congress who is running for the seat she held in New York's 22nd Congressional District, tweeted on Tuesday. "A cautious approach to returning to school is essential. Children attended school in the pre vaccine era for over a century."
Tenney's suggestion ignores data on mortality rates prior to the invention of vaccines and on the effectiveness of vaccines, as well as warnings from the nation's top infectious disease expert.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, with regard to the incidence of various infectious diseases before vaccines were available, that hundreds died from measles every year; 15,000 Americans died of diphtheria in 1921 alone; and in 1964-1965, 2,000 babies died of rubella during an epidemic that infected 12.5 million people in the United States.
By contrast, the CDC says, vaccines prevented 21 million hospitalizations and more than 730,000 child deaths just between 1984 and 2014.
Tenney's comments on children's immunity were at variance with a warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
During a Tuesday Senate hearing, Fauci cautioned, "I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects" of the new coronavirus. He added that "the numbers [show] that children in general do much, much better than adults and the elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful, and hopefully humble in knowing that I don't know everything about this disease."
Fauci mentioned the emergence of a mysterious illness in children that may be linked to the new coronavirus. According to CBS News, 15 states are investigating the illness, which has killed three children in New York.
Tenney also ignores the impact of reopening schools on teachers. Almost one in three teachers in the United States is at high risk for severe cases of the coronavirus due to age, according to U.S. News and World Report.
"Seems like Claudia Tenney should be prudent and listen to science and medical experts, instead of encouraging an unnecessary return to the days before modern medicine when children were at great risk," Christine Bennett, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman, said in a Wednesday statement.
The Tenney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.