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Access to large-scale coronavirus testing will be a key part of students returning to classrooms in the fall, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander stated Friday, saying “children should have on masks” in class.
In an interview on “America’s Newsroom” with host Sandra Smith, Alexander said that while there are some health risks U.S. officials have warned against “cavalierly dismissing,” COVID-19 has been generally less damaging to America’s youth “even though they may carry it to older people.”
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“So, I think most principals, most school boards are making plans now to go back to school in August because any teacher can tell you there are other risks – the risk of social, intellectual, emotional damage to a child who might lose an entire school year – and, we want to avoid that,” he remarked.
Alexander told Smith conditions for reopening would require children wearing masks, social distancing, flexibility in altering and staggering schedules, unions and governments relaxing restrictions to aid schools, smaller classrooms sizes, and more attention to flu and pneumonia shots.
“But, it’s the usual things. Social distance, wash your hands, stay apart from one another, and then regular testing,” he repeated. “And, if you find a child in a classroom who is infected, he or she is removed from the classroom, you test all the other children in the classroom and make sure the school is safe.”
Access to coronavirus testing is essential to any facility housing groups of people, but in classrooms full of kids – especially those in high school and college – it will be especially important to try to mitigate the spread of the virus.
According to Vox, the nation’s testing numbers have continued to trend upward this week with about 380,000 tests per day over the week of May 14, up from roughly 320,000 tests a day over the week of May 7. Their figures were based on data from the COVID Tracking Project.
That said, although President Trump has boasted that America “leads the world in testing” before, other countries have done better reporting higher per-capita testing rates.
In addition, a new report released Wednesday from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) suggests that numbers widely reported by states and by the administration show only part of the picture.
This week, multiple states admitted they had been combining data on diagnostic tests and antibody tests, potentially skewing results.
Alexander told Smith he believes there will be enough testing by the beginning of the school year to proceed on schedule, and that numbers of tests would continue to ramp up.
“Keep in mind that we are testing this month in May in our country about 10 million times. That’s twice as much as any other country,” he beseeched. “And, if we go up to 40 or 50 million, that’s four to five times more tests by September or October.”
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Alexander also cited the work of National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, who he believes is pulling out “all the stops ever” to create “tens of millions [of] more tests that are quick, accurate, and get a rapid result.”
“So, clearly we’re going to be able to test all the teachers, all the cleaning personnel, all the people who come in and out of the school, anyone who has a symptom, a whole class, if the class has one person and who [was] infected, and some schools may be able to test the whole school,” he concluded.