When asked about the safety of Texas students and teachers returning to classrooms, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) appeared to question whether children can catch and transmit the new coronavirus, but data provided by doctors and government websites contradict his statement.
We still don’t know whether children can get it and transmit it to others,” Cornyn said in an interview Thursday with NBC 5.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, more than 1,700 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in people ages 0-19 statewide. More than 500 of those patients are under the age of 10.
NBC 5 sent those statistics to the senator’s staff and asked for clarification on his comments, but they did not respond to our question.
A doctor at Children’s Health Dallas and UT Southwestern recently told NBC5 children made up a small, but an increasing number of cases in Dallas County. He also explained children can spread the virus, including in settings similar to schools like daycare and summer camps.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children should follow the same social distancing guidelines as adults and it recommends that children over the age of 2 wear face coverings.
It gets worse:
Cornyn made the statement in response to a question about whether schools should open for in-person learning.
“I think the most important thing is safety. The schools can open, but if parents don't feel comfortable sending their children back then they won't go. So, I think we've got a long way to go to regaining their confidence,” he said. “The good news is if you look again at the numbers, no one under the age of 20 has died of the coronavirus. We still don't know whether children can get it and transmit it to others.”
Cornyn clarified his comment on deaths in the under 20 age range was specific to Texas.
However, in late April, a 17-year-old Lancaster girl died of COVID-19 making her the youngest victim of the virus in Dallas County.
NBC 5 informed Cornyn’s office of her death following the interview and asked whether it changed his response on whether to reopen schools.
A spokeswoman did not answer that question, but called the senator’s statement “an honest misunderstanding.” She said Cornyn got his data from this dashboard provided by Texas 2036, which shows no deaths in the under 20 age range.
Texas 2036, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the state’s bicentennial, told NBC 5 it gets its data from the state health department. Texas DSHS has published age information for 703 COVID-19 victims across the state, which is less than a third of the 2,918 total deaths reported in the state.
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