July 22, 2020 / 11:12 PM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-Trump says he is comfortable having his son and grandchildren back in schools

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By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, July 22 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he is comfortable with his son, Barron, and grandchildren going back to school, arguing that schools should be open despite concerns from many that it could lead to more coronavirus infections.

Trump’s push for schools to reopen comes even as cases of the deadly disease skyrocket across the country, including in states critical to his re-election in November such as Florida and Texas.

The president, a Republican, has threatened to withhold federal funding if schools do not reopen.

He said he was fine with the children in his family returning to school buildings.

“I am comfortable with that,” he said.

Trump said children had strong immune systems and suggested they would not bring the disease home to parents and elderly relatives, something he said was being studied. “They don’t catch it easily, they don’t bring it home easily,” he said.

He said the decision to open schools would ultimately be up to state governors.

At his second coronavirus-related press briefing in as many days, Trump urged young people again to avoid packed bars and said he was conducting the briefing without doctors from his White House Coronavirus Task Force because he had been briefed by them himself.

Trump cited civil rights demonstrations around the country as one reason for the spike in cases. The president has been criticized for his “law and order” emphasis in response to protests after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis who died in police custody.

Trump again encouraged people to wear masks. He said it was up to governors to decide how strongly to encourage or require face coverings in their states. Trump has only worn a mask once in public but this week started encouraging their use on a wider scale.

He also pressed Americans to practice good hygiene.

“I’m finding more and more people are saying, ‘Wash your hands.’ So, wash your hands,” he said. (Reporting by Jeff Mason Steve Holland; additional reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Tom Brown)

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