WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise (R-La.) questioned Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about what medical reason there is for schools to still remain closed. Both Drs. Fauci and Walensky acknowledged that there is no medical reason for students to not return to the classroom at this point. In addition, Dr. Fauci admitted to Whip Scalise that it is troubling that Biden’s Donna Migrant Facility is over 1,000 percent capacity and migrants are not following CDC guidelines within the detention center.
Click here or on the image above to watch the exchange.
Whip Scalise: Dr. Walensky, you’ve talked about this a few times, but you were quoted as saying, ‘Safe reopening of schools does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely.’ CDC since put out guidance that talks about the things that need to happen to reopen schools. It’s really focused on social distancing and wearing masks. I don’t even think y’all talked about vaccinations. You know, teachers should be prioritized, and most states are prioritizing vaccinations [for teachers], but the CDC guidance doesn’t mention it. Do you still stand by the statement that you made that [the] safe reopening of schools does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen?
Dr. Walensky: ACIP recommends teacher and educator vaccination.
Whip Scalise: But you’re the CDC Director, what’s your recommendation? Do you stand by what you said?
Dr. Walensky: The CDC guidance specifically says —
Whip Scalise: Let me ask specifically about, you said that statement I just read, do you still stand by that statement? Yes or no?
Dr. Walensky: I do.
Whip Scalise: You do. Okay. And Dr. Fauci, you’ve also made comments about the CDC guidance on schools. You were asked about school reopenings and you said ‘I would back the CDC recommendations because that is really based on data.’ And you’ve just heard the CDC Director [say] that safely reopening schools should really be conditioned upon the social distancing and on masks. Do you stand by that as well?
Dr. Fauci: Yes.
Whip Scalise: So you do stand by that. So again, vaccinations should be available to all teachers — most states are doing it. Those that aren’t should prioritize teachers. But reopening schools should really be based on that science, right, the medical science that social distancing and mask protocols are what drives that, is that correct?
Dr. Fauci: Yes.
Whip Scalise: And I would imagine [that] you acknowledge — I’ve seen so much medical data that shows the damage. You know, we’ve talked about COVID deaths, and they’re all tragic. We’ve seen a lot of other deaths in America. Deaths tied to depression because people can’t go about their lives. That’s a real factor. We’ve seen so many young kids, millions today that still can’t go back in the classroom — not because of medical science, [but] because of political science that is destroying these kids’ lives. Do you recognize that it is causing depression, drug overdoses, drug abuse for kids tied to some of those decisions?
Dr. Fauci: The psychological effects of keeping children out of school are well known. It definitely is not something that is favorable for children. It is much to their advantage to be in school.
Whip Scalise: Well I appreciate that, and I hope that all of the school systems across America follow the medical science and stop this political science destruction of kids. Trying to hide behind science when in fact, as the CDC Director just said, [as] Dr. Fauci just said, schools absolutely should reopen. The CDC guidance is very clear on what it takes to reopen, and it’s social distancing and masks. Follow that medical science. Now, I want to get back to the pictures that I showed earlier about the Donna Detention Facility. And so now you’ve both had a chance to see them. You both looked — let me just ask you if it’s a restaurant in any state. If a restaurant is set at [a] 250-person capacity, and there [are] 1000, or 4000, people in a restaurant that’s set for 250-person capacity. Dr. Fauci, would you consider that a major concern, and probably wouldn’t that restaurant be shut down?
Dr. Fauci: It would be a major concern, yes.
Whip Scalise: So, you go to the Donna Detention Facility today. And I was just there [on] Friday morning, six days ago, in Donna, Texas, at that detention facility rated for 250 people. Border Patrol told us there were over 4,000 people, young kids, in that facility that day — six days ago, not six feet apart. As you can see, in most cases six inches apart, many without masks. Do you consider this a major concern?
Dr. Fauci: Yes.
Whip Scalise: So again, and I would urge you, because you have closer access to President Biden than I do, I really want President Biden to go see this. He ought to see this. He won’t see it. Vice President Harris won’t see it. You’ve seen it. You know what the science says, the medical science. Could you please urge President Biden? He can fix this right now. There are three major things he did. The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy was working. Every border patrol agent tells you that. President Biden got rid of it. It’s caused this magnet of these young people being exploited, abused, exposed to COVID. They say at least 10 percent of these kids are COVID positive. If you look at these conditions and 10 percent of the people in this room are COVID positive, do you think ultimately way more than 10 percent will get COVID and then get on an airplane — without a COVID test as they’re being done — [and are] sent around the country? Is that a major concern?
Dr. Fauci: Yeah, that would be a major concern. Yes.
Whip Scalise: It’s happening right now. It needs to end. President Biden can end this today. He needs to stop this national health crisis and the super spreader COVID event that he’s created at our southern border. I yield back.
Dr. Walensky: May I just add one thing, Representative, and just for the record to show that our school guidance does in fact speak to vaccination. We have layered mitigation strategies. We say it’s not conditional upon [the] safe reopening of schools.
Whip Scalise: But not conditional. The guidance clearly [indicates] socially distance, wear masks [and you can] reopen schools today. Thank you for that.