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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserted on Wednesday that US schools can safely reopen even if teachers have not received the coronavirus vaccine, while the top US infections expert supported the idea of wearing two face masks.
As some teachers’ unions balk at resuming in-person instruction before teachers are inoculated, the CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, said: “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.”
And Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases official said there is “no harm” if people want to “double mask” for added protection against Covid-19.
Wearing one mask on top of another is not official government advice and Walensky said at a briefing of the White House coronavirus taskforce on Wednesday that more data will be forthcoming on the value of so called double-masking.
Jeff Zients, the head of the taskforce and Joe Biden’s coronavirus tsar, noted that the pace of vaccinations was ramping up, after a very rocky start to the vaccine distribution and administration program in late December under the Trump administration.
He said the Biden administration has reached a the point where the seven-day average daily doses administered is now averaging just more than 1.3m shots a day in the period from 27 January through 2 February.
“We are on track to meet the president’s goal of 100m shots in 100 days,” Zients said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations appear to be on a downward trajectory in the US.
However, Walensky warned that new Covid-19 variants popping up across the country could threaten that positive momentum.
Walensky cited CDC data showing that social distancing and wearing a mask significantly reduce the spread of the virus in school settings.
Zients called on Congress to pass additional funding to ensure schools have the resources necessary to support reopening.
Biden has pledged to ensure nearly all elementary and middle schools will reopen for in-person instruction in the first 100 days of his administration.
Teachers are prioritized as “essential workers” under the CDC’s vaccination plans, though many have yet to receive doses as the nation continues to face a supply shortage of the vaccine.
The tension between the rocky rollout of the vaccine and reopening schools, however, is palpable. On Wednesday, the city of San Francisco is suing its own school district to try to force open school doors amid the pandemic.
City attorney Dennis Herrera, with the backing of Mayor London Breed, announced he had sued the San Francisco board of education and the San Francisco unified school district as a last resort to salvage what’s left of the academic year.
“Not a single San Francisco public school student has set foot in their classroom in 347 days,” Herrera said at a news conference, calling it shameful and also unlawful. “More than 54,000 San Francisco schoolchildren are suffering. They are being turned into Zoom-bies by online school. Enough is enough.”
The school district did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. California teachers are next in line for the Covid-19 vaccine, and some have started to get shots in rural areas.
Meanwhile, with the football season climax of the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, Fauci urged against watch parties.
He told people to watch the Super Bowl at home within their own household in order to avoid spreading coronavirus.
Elsewhere, the federal government is opening two coronavirus vaccination sites in east Oakland and east Los Angeles, two of the hardest-hit communities in California, which is suffering gravely in the Covid crisis.
The facilities will be staffed primarily by officials from the Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Zients called those sites “just the beginning” of the Biden administration’s push to speed the pace of vaccinations, particularly in areas suffering the brunt of illnesses and death.
New York City’s health commissioner, Dave Chokshi, reported he had been infected with the coronavirus.
Chokshi said he was recently tested, received a positive diagnosis and has mild symptoms.
He has appeared in public service announcements urging New Yorkers to follow coronavirus protocols for mask wearing and maintaining social distance.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: CDC says schools can reopen even if teachers have not had Covid vaccine | US news