Fauci Says Face Shields Good Idea for Teachers Back in Schools

Children ages 10 to 19 can spread Covid-19 as easily as adults, and it might be a good idea for teachers to wear face shields if they return to the classroom, Anthony Fauci said in an interview Monday.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said data clearly shows older children can be spreaders and that there is “a reasonable assumption” to be made that the high viral loads seen in some very young children means they too can transmit the virus, even though they’re less likely to get seriously ill.

“Any mucousal surface is susceptible” to the virus, Fauci said in response to online questioning about face shields from Howard Bauchner, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Fauci’s comments come with new U.S. cases rising. Fauci said there’s progress being made in developing treatments to help keep early disease from advancing, and highlighted two trials for monoclonal antibodies. One will be for outpatients in the early stages of the disease and the other for hospitalized patients who aren’t yet severely ill.

‘Insidious Increase’

To limit growth of the virus, states seeing an “insidious increase” in positive tests don’t necessarily need to close down as tightly as they did early in the pandemic, according to Fauci. But he said they must intensify the push toward mask-wearing and other public health imperatives.

“It’s in our hands,” Fauci said, noting that he was pleased that President Donald Trump has been wearing a mask more in public. “We need more of that consistency,” he said.

On the question of vaccines, Fauci said “everything needs to be “transparent” to get the backing of the public for any successful effort. He said independent data monitoring boards will be closely reviewing the trials as they play out over the next few months, and all of their findings should be available.

But both he and JAMA’s Bauchner expressed concern that recent positive news releases related to vaccines were issued too early. Bauchner asked if that’s a practice that should be restrained.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Fauci responded, but he said he’s been told by companies that the releases are needed to meet U.S. financial regulations.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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