Senator John Cornyn Claims He Doesn’t Know If Kids Can Get And Transmit COVID-19

As COVID-19 numbers rise across the nation — including in his state — Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas incorrectly said Thursday that experts are still unsure whether children can get and spread the coronavirus. 

“We still don’t know whether children can get it and transmit it to others,” Cornyn, who is up for reelection this year, said in an interview with local TV station NBC 5 when asked about schools reopening this fall. 

Children make up a small portion of the COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they do account for some of them. The actual number of kids in Texas who have contracted COVID-19 is still unknown; the demographic data for positive cases in the state come from completed investigations in regional health departments, and many cases are still under investigation.

But data shows that at least 550 children in Texas age 9 and under ― 99 of whom are infants under 1 year old ― have contracted COVID-19. Another 1,172 Texans between the ages of 10 and 19 have contracted the disease, and more than 1,300 coronavirus cases have been linked back to child care facilities in the state. Texas’ compilation of completed case investigations does not list any COVID-19 fatalities for minors, but county officials say 17-year-old Jameela Dirrean Emoni Barber died in Lancaster, Texas, in April after testing positive for the virus. 

Still, President Donald Trump and many of his GOP allies have pushed to reopen schools full time this fall, partially by downplaying the virus’s risks

Even if children are generally less susceptible to the disease than the elderly, some kids are more vulnerable due to medical conditions. Teachers and other school staff may be as well. And children don’t exist in a vacuum ― they go home to family members, friends and neighbors who may be high-risk. 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told a local news channel that he wasn't sure if kids could get or transmit COVID-19. Data shows t

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told a local news channel that he wasn’t sure if kids could get or transmit COVID-19. Data shows they can.

When NBC 5 asked about Barber’s death, Cornyn’s office called the senator’s failure to acknowledge her death an honest misunderstanding. The death was not included in the statistics the senator had seen, the office said. 

The outlet also asked Cornyn to clarify his previous comment on kids contracting and transmitting the virus, and asked if knowing that a teen had presumably died due to COVID-19 changed his stance on reopening. Cornyn’s office did not respond to those questions.  

The senator’s office also did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. 

Texas paused its reopening process at the end of June due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has also reversed his initial stance on requiring masks in public and has put a statewide mask mandate in place. 

At least 1,335 people — including 441 were children — had tested positive for COVID-19 in Texas child care facilities as of last Friday, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Since the state began its reopening process, 883 child care facilities have resumed operations in the state. 

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