The NIH director also weighed in on the heated fight in states requiring children to wear masks in schools. Collins said he’s “puzzled” by the debate, saying there is ample evidence that wearing masks will help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.
Several states, including Texas, Florida and Arizona, have banned school districts from broadly requiring mask-wearing. Nevertheless, some large, urban districts — including Dallas and Phoenix — have defied those orders. The Biden administration and the U.S. Department of Education have thrown their support behind these embattled district leaders, even threatening states with civil rights investigations if students feel they cannot safely learn because of a lack of masking
Ultimately, Collins said, masking will help keep schools open.
“If you want to avoid having that outbreak that’s going to send all the kids home again, you should be doing everything to avoid that. And that means wearing masks,” Collins told NPR. “And by the way, if somebody tries to tell you we don’t really have scientific evidence to say that masks reduce infection in schools, that’s just not true. There are dozens of publications, both from the U.S. and other countries, to show that’s the case. So, boy, I wish we could get over that fight.”
It’s a fight, Collins said, that is getting in the way of “what is going to be a tough enough fall as it is.”