Photo credit: Adam Schultz

Carole Johnson joins the COVID-19 Response Team to detail strategies that will be implemented to ensure schools will reopen safely. 

In Wednesday’s briefing, the COVID-19 Response Team was joined by White House Testing Coordinator Carole Johnson to discuss the American Rescue Plan’s initiative to reopen schools safely, and how the funds will be distributed to support schools across the nation. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci also introduced data reassuring the effectiveness of all three of the vaccines in a community setting, which means that they have been successful in the long term after leaving the context of the clinical trial. 

Funding for schools to safely reopen 

To combat the issue of many schools lacking the necessary resources to set up COVID screening programs, the Department of Education announced the state funding allocations for the $122 billion in the American Rescue Plan that would help schools invest in safety strategies.

The mitigation strategies would include implementing spaced-out learning environments, hiring more teachers, and extending critical learning and enrichment programs. 

In regards to testing, the Department of Health and Human Services shared its plan to distribute $10 billion to support COVID testing in schools across the country. 

“Every state in America will have access to millions of dollars to set up screening [and] testing programs to add a layer of protection for schools, teachers, and students,” said Johnson.

The CDC will be working with state and local health officials to use these funds to establish efforts like regular testing programs for teachers, students, and faculty. 

“We know that testing works. We know that it works to identify cases and slow the spread of COVID, and we look forward to working with schools to implement this exciting new program,” said Johnson. 

Promising data regarding the three vaccines

Dr. Fauci shared an update on how the vaccines have proven to be effective in the long run now that they have been distributed in communities for a few months now. 

He distinguished that in the clinical trials, the approved vaccines had proven to be efficacious, but in the context of the real world, enough time has passed that they are now determined to be effective. 

“What we are seeing, in fact, these types of vaccines that I just mentioned, all are working,” said Fauci. 

Among many other studies, he cited a look at individuals who visited the Mayo Clinic in the United States to support the findings that the mRNA vaccines are effective in real communities. 

From those who entered the Mayo Clinic and were tested for the study, Fauci said there was “an 80% reduction in the risk of a positive screening test in people who received two doses of an mRNA vaccine.” 

“Bottom line, the vaccines work in the real world. Not only are they efficacious, but they are effective,” concluded Fauci.