Fauci: Stimulus bill will help schools reopen safely

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(NEXSTAR) – Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that passage of the federal stimulus bill will provide badly-needed resources to schools trying to reopen in a safe manner.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert stressed that schools “need more resources.”

“I think that schools need more resources and that’s the reason the national relief act we’re talking about getting passed … We need that. The schools need more resources,” he said.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for school districts to reopen.

They suggest washing hands, universal usage of masks and social distancing, as well as increased testing, contact tracing and vaccines for teachers when possible.

When asked if schools could be reopened before teachers are vaccinated, Fauci replied: “I think it can be done.”

“Obviously, it’s not a perfect situation, but it’s really important to get children back in school.”

Fauci also commented on the U.K. and South African COVID-19 variants that have been identified in the U.S.

Speaking of the U.K. variant, Fauci noted that “it transmits more efficiently from person to person … and recent studies indicate it is a bit more deadly. It makes people more sick and it’s more likely to lead to serious complications.”

But there is some good news, according to Fauci: the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines “clearly work against this variant,” per in-vitro studies and “extrapolation from other vaccines.”

“This tells us that the best way to get around that and to prevent any serious consequences is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible and to double down on public health measures,” such as masking and social distancing.

“If you put that together with the vaccine,” Fauci concluded, “we could be able to confront this variant and prevent it from taking over.”

In January, President Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout. 

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.

“We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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