The nation's children can return to school this fall in a way that is "safe and sensible under most circumstances," and billions of dollars have already been allocated by Congress this year that will help pay schools for improvements that may be necessary to make that happen, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday.
"If you put your mind to it that you can get the kids back so they're safe and teachers are safe," Azar said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "It will vary based on local circumstances. There may be communities where it doesn't make sense but for the most part, our kids can and need to get back to school and it can be done in ways that protect them and keep them safe."
However, when asked about a teacher who voiced concerns to Fox News that there is not enough money available to make schools safe, particularly when it comes to ventilation systems in many schools, Azar pointed out that Congress has already allocated more than $13 billion for schools, but only a small amount has been used.
President Donald Trump is also advocating for $100 billion in additional funding to be approved through the next coronavirus relief legislation now under discussion, said Azar.
The secretary also agreed that it's "very credible" that millions of doses of "gold-standard" coronavirus vaccines will be available by the end of the year, and hundreds of millions more doses will follow by the beginning of 2021.
"The United States now has six vaccines that we've placed major investments in," he said. "Four of them have already reported out positive phase one clinical trial results and two of them are already in the advanced final phase three studies."
Azar also discussed his upcoming trip to Taiwan, where he will be the highest-ranking U.S. representative to visit since 1979.
"We've had a really important longstanding partnership with Taiwan especially in the field of public health," said Azar. "Taiwan has been a model of transparency, cooperation, and collaboration in the international community and their response to COVID has been incredible."
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