Dr. Fauci Warns Sen. Rand Paul Not to Be 'Cavalier' on COVID-19 Impact on Kids After Lawmaker's Critique

"We don't know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children," Fauci said Tuesday

Dr. Fauci and Rand Paul
Dr. Anthony Fauci (left) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul speak during Tuesday's Senate panel. Photo: PBS NewsHour/ Youtube

During a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and other lawmakers pushing for schools to reopen in the fall not to be "cavalier" about the novel coronavirus and its effects on kids.

“We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children,” Fauci, the nation's leading expert on infectious disease, told the senator during the virtual panel. “I think we better be careful we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune from the deleterious effects.”

Fauci, 79, gave his warning after Paul (who contracted the virus in March) said Fauci's medical advice was not the "end all" and that not sending kids back to school in the fall would be "really ridiculous."

“As much as I respect you Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make the decision," Paul, 57, told him. "We can listen to your advice. But there are people on the other side saying there won’t be a surge and we can safely open the economy.”

Fauci made a point to respond to Paul's criticism, disputing the senator's claims about what he believes his role to be.

“I never made myself out to be the end-all,” Fauci said. “I’m a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence.”

Fauci, who is a leading voice on President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, reassured Paul that he doesn't make economic recommendations — only health recommendations.

"I don’t give advice about anything other than public health," Fauci said.

There's still much that is unknown about the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness, Fauci told Paul.

Paul said the mortality rates of children who are 18 and younger in New York "approaches zero" and asked Fauci, “Shouldn’t we at least be discussing what the mortality of children is?”

CNBC reported that the New York state health department shows 12 children have died from the coronavirus. According to The New York Times, while kids are still believed to be at a lower risk, medical professionals believe the illness is linked to three kids who died in the state after the virus caused a multisystem inflammatory illness.

“The idea that children either don’t get COVID-19 or have really mild disease is an oversimplification,” one doctor told the Times.

Fauci said Tuesday that health officials were recognizing characteristics of the coronavirus "that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe" and expressed caution in how the U.S. should approach reopen society, including schools, with many traits of the virus still yet unknown.

“You used the word we should be ‘humble’ about what we don’t know," Fauci told Paul. "I think that falls under the fact that we don’t know everything about this virus, and we really had better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children."

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