US health secretary Alex Azar says Illinois students should return to class

The United States health secretary, who oversees the FDA, CDC and much of the federal COVID response, tells FOX 32 local kids should be in school.

“Illinois, Chicago are getting better in the sense of cases case counts going down and test positivity going down,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

He says Illinois is moving in the right direction and has everything for kids to return to class.

“When you have cases, you need to do the contact tracing within the school and test around them in order to contain disease. We have all of those capacities. We can get back to school and do so safely,” Azar said.

But Governor JB Pritzker is not having it, saying, “had there been a national strategy to address the rampant spread of this deadly virus, there might have been a chance to have universal in-person learning, but instead the President knowingly downplayed the virus..."

Even as Illinois surpasses 5-million COVID tests, Pritzker says it is too soon to ease restrictions.

“The answer is the virus is still out there,” the governor said.

On the COVID vaccine front, Azar says there will be 100 million FDA-approved doses available by year’s end.

Just last week, the head of the CDC said a vaccine would not be widely available until mid-next year, while the president said it could be available in weeks.

Azar sought to push back on repeated allegations of letting politics interfere with the work of scientists.

“We will make decisions on vaccines and therapeutics only based on science evidence data, and the law,” he said.