President Donald Trump's push for reopening America's schools this fall and for in-person voting in November got an unexpected boost Friday when the Washington Post revealed that Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, offered support for the moves.
What did he say about schools?
In an interview with the Post's "Power Up," Fauci, the media's favorite COVID expert whose opinions they often juxtapose with Trump's, said the "default principle" should be to do whatever possible to get students — elementary, middle, high school, and even some colleges — back in school.
"The default principle should be to try as best you can to get the children back to school," Fauci said, the Post reported. "The big, however, and qualifier in there is that you have to have a degree of flexibility. The flexibility means if you look at the map of our country, we are not unidimensional with regard to the level of infection."
He added, of course, that the health and safety of the kids should be paramount.
"The bottom line is everybody should try within the context of the level of infection that you have to get the kids back to school," he told the paper, "but the primary consideration … should be the safety, health and the welfare of the children, as well as the teachers and the potential secondary effects on parents and family members."
However, the coronavirus isn't the only health concern for kids, Fauci pointed out. He also noted the importance of protecting children's overall health:
Fauci explained the need to protect the psychological and physical well being of children — especially those "who rely heavily on school for proper nutrition" — and to prevent a 'negative downstream ripple effect' of parents being overburdened if schools remain shuttered.
So, what does Fauci recommend? From the Post:
● States with minimal virus: “So if you're in one of those areas, generally referred to as the green states … with some overlap with others and generally, you can get back to school with the kinds of precautions that you do in general society," he said.
● States with “smoldering infections": “You might want to tighten that up a bit and do things like, you know, the hybrid models where you have part online, part in person," he said.
● States with high infections: In consultation with local authorities, and the Centers for Disease Control, “they may want to pause before they start sending the kids back to school for a variety of reasons."
What did Fauci say about voting?
President Trump has been insisting that states conduct in-person voting come Nov. 3 and has repeatedly criticized calls for states to offer mail-in balloting.
Though Fauci was careful not to criticize voting by mail, knowing whatever he said would be used as a soundbite, he did appear to back opening up voting booths for in-person voting, noting that it can be done with practices that would make it as safe as shopping for groceries.
"It's a sport now in Washington to pit me against the president, and I don't really want to do that," he told the Post. "But someone will take a quote and bingo, it'll be me against the president and I don't want to do that."
"I don't see any reason why, if people maintain that type of physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands — why you cannot, at least where I vote, go to a place and vote." Fauci said.