GOP politicians claim top infectious diseases specialist Anthony Fauci said schools should have stayed open during the pandemic. He never said that.
Donald Trump and other GOP politicians are attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci on social media, falsely claiming the top infectious diseases specialist said in a weekend interview that schools should never have closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Retweeting a Fox News clip Tuesday morning, Trump weaponized Fauci's ABC interview against him.
"The president was RIGHT when he said get the kids back in school — Now Dr. Fauci says, 'You know what, I'm looking at the data — the kids should be in school," Trump tweeted, quoting "Fox and Friends" cohost Brian Kilmeade.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was equally quick to accuse Fauci of lying and hypocrisy.
"I told him [schools should remain open] multiple times over the summer," Paul tweeted Sunday, adding that Fauci "owes" an apology "to every single parent and school-age child in America."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was also salty Monday about what he sees as unnecessary school closures.
Accompanied by red "x's" were other list items: "emergency COVID relief," "help small businesses," "reopen the economy," and "get kids back in school."
But Fauci never said schools shouldn't have closed — nor that they should all immediately reopen.
"Close the bars and keep the schools open, is what we really say," Fauci said in his Sunday interview with ABC's "This Week." "Obviously, you don't have one size fits all. But as I said in the past … the default position should be to try as best as possible, within reason, to keep the children in school or to get them back to school."
When "you look at the data," Fauci said, transmission "among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected."
He added that while officials should "try to get the kids back," the swiftest way for schools to reopen safely is to first contain the community spread of the disease.
There's nothing new about this assessment. It aligns with months-old guidance from both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both of which advocated for a case-by-case approach to schools reopening.
The CDC's August guidelines describe a "continuum of risk," ranging from all-virtual learning as the least risky model for schools to adopt, to in-person learning as the riskiest.
They recommend school districts make decisions based on their local COVID numbers and risk-mitigation options, with virtual learning being the safest option where there's wide community spread.
The CDC's August guidelines also support Fauci's statement that students are a low-risk population, noting that "the best available evidence from countries that have reopened schools indicate that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children — at least in areas with low community transmission."
But, the CDC cautions, while children themselves are at a lower risk, that must be weighed against the higher risk posed to teachers, administrators, and staff, whose rate of transmission reflects the trends of the surrounding community.
Sept. 14 guidelines from the World Health Organization also advise a risk-based analysis to reopening schools.
Where few cases are present, the WHO recommends that schools should remain open. But, in the event of widespread community transmission, the WHO recommends schools turn to virtual learning.
The facts haven't stopped right-wing media from pushing the myth that Fauci is changing his story, though.
Far-right outlet the Federalist ran a hit piece Tuesday accusing Fauci of keeping schools closed just to spite Trump.
And on Monday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed Fauci and other experts had been lying to the American public all along.
"In case you missed it over the Thanksgiving weekend, the country's public health establishment admitted it has tortured your children for eight months for no apparent reason," Carlson falsely claimed.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.