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CDC Director: Vaccinating teachers ‘not a prerequisite’ for safely reopening schools

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On Wednesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that vaccinating teachers is “not a prerequisite” for schools to reopen safely, amid increasing calls from parents to return their children to in-person learning.

This also comes as teacher’s unions in multiple states have aggressively pushed back against reopening schools until teachers get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House press briefing regarding the coronavirus.

“Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools,” she added.

In the past, Walensky has expressed that schools should be the first to open and the last to close during the pandemic.

Back in December, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to put “frontline essential workers”—including teachers—to next receive the coronavirus vaccine after first placing healthcare workers and those in nursing homes ahead of everyone else, per CNBC. Despite this, it might be a while until a majority of teachers receive their doses as the U.S. tries to speed up its vaccine rollout.

Last week, the CDC released a study in which it found scant evidence of the virus spreading at schools domestically and overseas when mask-wearing, social distancing, ventilating rooms were implemented.

In several states, teachers unions have been pushing back against reopening schools.

Notably, in California, teachers unions have said they that won’t send their members into an unsafe environment and that they want all teachers vaccinated before returning to the classroom, according to KTLA 5. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) told school officials to “pack it up” if they fail to resume in-person classes soon.

In the state of Illinois, too, Chicago teachers are refusing to teach in person until they have received the vaccine, according to NBC News.

In Boston as well, teachers have made a similar push against reopening until they receive the vaccine, according to Boston.com.

Moreover, the Biden administration has published a COVID-19 rescue plan that includes providing schools and colleges with $170 billion to help them reopen, with some of that money going toward testing.

Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus chief, said Wednesday that the president has been “very clear” that he wants schools to “reopen and to stay open.”

“That means every school has the equipment and the resources to open safely,” he said at the press briefing, calling on Congress to “do its part” by passing Biden’s coronavirus plan.

“Not just private schools or schools in wealthy areas but all schools,” Zients emphasized.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Adviser to Fauci bragged about helping him evade FOIA, ‘he is too smart’ to get caught

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The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic published evidence ahead of a hearing that explains the senior scientific adviser to then-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci actually bragged about helping Fauci evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The adviser, David Morens, admitted in his own communications to intentionally evading FOIA by using a Fauci’s private Gmail address or just handing him documents in person, according to the newly disclosed emails.

The 35-page report on Morens includes previously unreleased emails including:

An April 21, 2021 email shows Morens contacted EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak, whom Morens has described as his “best friend” and a U.S. taxpayer conduit for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as Boston University and New England Biolabs researchers.

The subject line references “CoV research in China, GoF, etc.,” referring to EcoHealth-facilitated coronavirus research at WIV that could make a virus more transmissible or dangerous. The National Institutes of Health recently admitted it funded gain-of-function research under that definition but not a stricter regulatory definition.

“PS, i forgot to say there is no worry about FOIAs,” Morens wrote. “I can either send stuff to Tony on his private gmail, or hand it to him at work or at his house. He is too smart to let colleagues send him stuff that could cause trouble.”

A May 13, 2021 email to the same recipients referred to “our ‘secret’ back channel” by which Morens connected Fauci to a journalist named “Arthur,” apparently to discuss the feds’ preferred narrative that SARS-CoV-2 emerged naturally rather than via lab leak. The email cited an article on the message board Virological.

Gerald Keusch, associate director of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory Institute at BU, emailed Daszak Oct. 25, 2021 to relay a phone conversation with “David,” who is “concerned about the privacy of text” and email sent and received on his “government phone” because they “could be FOIA’able.”

“Tony has told him not to be in touch with you and EHA for the time being,” Keusch wrote. Morens relayed that Daszak should get his story straight on EcoHealth’s claim that NIH locked it out of the system when it tried to file its year-five progress report that disclosed an arguable gain-of-function experiment.

Earlier in the day, Morens told Daszak “i will be meeting with Tony about this later on.” The subject line of the thread was “Draft response to Michael Lauer,” deputy director for extramural research at NIH.

Morens also told Daszak that Fauci and then-NIH Director Francis Collins are “trying to protect you, which also protects their own reputations,” apparently meaning against allegations that U.S. tax dollars passed through EcoHealth funded research that may have led to SARS-CoV-2’s emergence.

The subcommittee said it found emails that revealed “likely illegal” practices, including an April 2020 email in which Morens shared a “new NIAID implementation plan” with Daszak and an August 2020 email in which Daszak mentioned a “kick-back” to Morens after NIH awarded $7.5 million to EcoHealth.

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