CDC director says schools are among ‘safest places’ kids can be

When it comes down to where children are safest during the coronavirus pandemic, CDC Director Robert Redfield says schools are the best place to be.

At a coronavirus task force briefing held at the White House on Thursday, Redfield said evidence shows that students are contracting the respiratory illness from family gatherings and local events rather than schools.

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“The infections that we’ve identified in schools when they’ve been evaluated were not acquired in schools. They were actually acquired in the community and in the household,” he explained, citing task force coordinator Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who believes Americans are getting comfortable in removing protective face masks.

“The truth is, for kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school, and it’s really important that following the data, making sure we don’t make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close,” Redfield continued. “I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K-12 schools — as well as institutes of higher learning — really are not where we’re having our challenges.”

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In October, the CDC updated its report on COVID-19 Trends Among School-Aged Children — United States, which analyzed health data between March and September.

Research at the time showed out of 277,285 positive coronavirus cases in schools throughout the country, transmission among adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 was approximately twice that in children between the ages of 5 and 11.

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Conversely, more recent data put out by the American Association of Pediatrics on Monday stated more than 1 million children have contracted COVID-19. However, this estimated number does not necessarily mean the coronavirus was transmitted from open schools and face-to-face learning.

According to Redfield, “It would be counterproductive from my point of view, from a public health point of view, just in containing the epidemic, if there was an emotional response, to say, ‘Let’s close the schools.’”

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Over 11.7 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard.