Many school districts and universities in Tennessee have been weighing whether to allow students back on their campuses this fall. So Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, reconvened on Tuesday the Senate Health and Education Committee to hear from Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The meeting was unique, as Alexander and some witnesses were joining remotely via videoconference. They are either in quarantine or isolation after being exposed to staffers who have tested positive.
Other members opted to go to the Senate hearing room in Washington D.C.
Alexander, joining from his Tennessee home, warned his colleagues about pointing fingers regarding the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Almost all of us — the United States and almost every county as far as I can tell — underestimated this virus,” Alexander said.
So, Tennessee’s senior senator said the country should trust health experts while exploring a reopening. Alexander says he would like to see widespread testing before millions of students go back to school in August.
He also asked about the possibility of a vaccine in that timeframe. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that’s unlikely.
“The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the reentry of students into the full term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far,” Fauci told the panel.
But, health officials said that schools that want to reopen could test all their students before the beginning of the semester. Those who test positive would then be isolated.