Senate Republican Lamar Alexander said on Sunday that while the country’s COVID-19 testing levels have been “impressive,” they are not enough for college and university campuses to reopen as normal in August.
It appears Alexander disagrees with President Donald Trump, who last week said he wants higher education institutions to reopen for fall 2020.
Speaking on NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press,’ Lamar, who is chairman of the Senate Committee of Health, Education Labor & Pensions, said the more than eight million people who have tested so far in the country is “enough to do what we need to do today to reopen” but it may not suffice for when large numbers of students return to college campuses in the fall.
“It’s not enough, for example, when 35,000 kids and faculty show up on the University of Tennessee campus in August,” said the senator from Tennessee, according to a transcript of the interview published on NBC’s website.
Last week, Trump took questions at a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News and stressed that universities must open.
“We have to go back. We have to go back. And whatever it is — I would say, with the exception of teachers at a certain age, maybe they should wait until this thing passes. It will pass. You know, it’s going to pass,” said Trump, according to a transcript of the Q&A that took place during the town hall, which was posted on the White House website.
Trump praised Purdue University president Mitch Daniels’ decision to reopen the institution as a residential campus with in-person instruction for fall 2020.
“I watched a very good governor, former — former governor of Indiana preceding — he preceded Mike Pence. Good governor. And he’s the head of Purdue,” Trump said. “It’s a great school. And I saw him the other day. He wants to go back. He’s going back. Purdue — big school, fantastic. They’re going back.”