July 25, 2020 / 5:01 AM / 17 days ago

White House: children should go back to school even if studies show they spread coronavirus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Children still should go back to school even if it turns out that they are transmitting the deadly novel coronavirus that has claimed more than 140,000 U.S. lives, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Friday.

President Donald Trump is pushing to re-open U.S. schools, which abruptly shuttered this past spring when the coronavirus first began spreading across the country - despite teachers’ and families’ concerns that children could contract or transmit the disease should they return to classrooms.

“Even if there is transmission and later studies come out, let’s say, we believe that students should be going back to school because the effect on a child we know - scientifically, they are not affected in the same way as an adult,” McEnany said in answer to a press briefing question about comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, about how the disease behaves in small children.

Birx told the television program “Today” on Friday that it is “still an open question” how rapidly children under the age of 10 spread the illness. She cited a South Korean study that children younger than 10 transmit the virus less, while those older than 10 have the same rates of passing it as adults. Birx also said that children with underlying conditions can “suffer terrible consequences” if they contract the disease.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Jeff Mason, Editing by Franklin Paul and Steve Orlofsky

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