Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday denounced the voices calling for schools to be closed this fall due to fears of a coronavirus resurgence.
With many senators and witnesses speaking remotely, Paul — who at one time tested positive for the virus — was among the few in the hearing room for a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the virus.
At one point, Paul told Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that Fauci’s was not the only voice worth listening to.
Sen. Rand Paul: “I don’t think you’re the end all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “I have never made myself out to be the end all and only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official.” pic.twitter.com/Nqlg3zOqn3
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 12, 2020
In a clip from the hearing posted on Twitter by C-SPAN, Paul said the issue of mortality had not been fully discussed in terms of reopening schools.
“The mortality between zero and 18 in New York data approaches zero,” Paul said. “It’s going to be absolutely zero but it almost approaches zero.”
“Between 18 and 45, the mortality in New York was 10 out of 100,000. So really we do need to be thinking about that. We need to observe with an open mind what went on in Sweden where the kids kept going to school,” Paul said, noting that Sweden’s mortality rate was far below that of European nations that embraced severe lockdowns.
Paul said certainty is an illusion.
“I don’t think any of us are certain when we do all these modelings. There have been more people wrong with modelings than right,” he said.
“We’re opening a lot of economies around the U.S., and I hope that people who are predicting doom and gloom and saying ‘Oh we can’t do this, there’s going to be this surge’ will admit that they were wrong if there isn’t a surge because I think that’s what’s going to happen.”
Paul cited Kentucky’s experience with the virus to bolster his opinion.
“In rural states, we never really reached any sort of pandemic levels in Kentucky and other states. We have less deaths in Kentucky than we have in an average flu season. It’s not to say this isn’t deadly, but really outside of New England, we’ve had a relatively benign course for this virus nationwide,” he said.
“I think the one-size-fits-all, that we’re going to have a national strategy and nobody’s gonna go to school is kind of ridiculous,” he went on. “We really ought to be doing it school district by school district. “
“The power needs to be dispersed because people make wrong predictions,” he said, adding that “the history of this, when we look back, will be of wrong prediction after wrong prediction after wrong prediction starting with Ferguson in England,” referring to British health expert Neil Ferguson, who recently dropped his role as Britain’s top adviser on the virus because he had broken his own lockdown rules to meet a woman with whom he was romantically involved.
“I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy,” Paul said.
“As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely reopen the economy.
“And the facts will bear this out. But If we keep kids out of school for another year, what’s going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don’t have a parent that’s able to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year,” he continued.
“I think it’s a huge mistake if we don’t open the schools in the fall.”
Fauci offered a rebuttal.
“I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence,” he said.
“I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t give advice about anything other than public health.”
Fauci also noted that “we don’t know everything about this virus. We’ve really got to be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe.”
“I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”
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