Trump Said Kids Won’t Spread the Coronavirus to Their Homes. He Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About.

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President Trump pushed his desire to see schools reopen in his Wednesday evening coronavirus briefing, claiming that “a lot of people are saying” kids are unlikely to transmit the coronavirus to adults. Sorry, but the science—at least for now—isn’t saying that.

“They don’t transmit very easily,” Trump said when asked whether he was concerned that opening up schools would lead children to spread the virus to older family members. “They don’t catch it easily, they don’t bring it home easily, and if they do catch it, they get better fast.”

It’s certainly a consoling thought. But, as my colleague Jackie Mogensen recently reported, the science is still unclear. We do know, she wrote, that “children can become infected,” and it seems they tend to have milder symptoms than adults. But, she adds:

All this begs the question that’s crucial for schools in particular: If children show milder symptoms, does that mean they aren’t spreading the virus as much? That’s not totally understood, Zeichner says. “The likelihood of transmission depends on the amount of virus that somebody is producing, and the interaction of the person with the virus with the person who isn’t infected,” he says. “It is likely that children and adults with fewer symptoms may be producing less virus, which probably makes them less likely to transmit the infection.” But researchers are still investigating whether that’s the case.

And even those investigations are thorny. As our other colleague Kiera Butler wrote earlier this week, we can’t even be sure that the incubation period—the time between exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms—for kids is the same as that of adults.

Since there’s no consensus about whether children are less likely to transmit the virus to adults, there’s no consensus among public health experts about whether schools should reopen their doors to students. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from handing off the responsibility for reopening schools to local leaders while blindly hoping that the science works out. That always goes so well.

As a bonus, Trump proclaimed at the end of the briefing that he has “done more for Black Americans than anybody, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” There does seem to be a clear consensus on that one.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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