Despite Data Showing Otherwise, Sen. John Cornyn Says It's Unclear Whether Kids Can Catch COVID-19

click to enlarge Republican Sen. John Cornyn was a featured speaker at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's anti-Green New Deal forum. - SHUTTERSTOCK
Republican Sen. John Cornyn was a featured speaker at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's anti-Green New Deal forum.
Sen. John Cornyn, who's faced criticism for downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic and latching onto racist conspiracy theories to explain it, is now questioning whether it affects children.

When asked by Dallas TV station NBC 5 about how safe it is for Texas students to return to classrooms, the three-term Texas Republican said it's unclear whether kids can catch or spread the novel coronavirus.

"We still don’t know whether children can get it and transmit it to others," Cornyn said in an interview with the station on Thursday.

However, state and federal health officials — not to mention a shitload of doctors and medical researchers — say they can.

Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed 1,722 COVID-19 cases among Texans who are 19 and under. Roughly 550 of those are under the age of 10.

What's more, the CDC warned in April that children can contract COVID-19, even if their symptoms are different or sometimes less serious than those faced by adults. Studies have also identified nearly 300 cases of an apparent side effect of the infection among children that can inflame and damage their organs.

After NBC 5 sent Texas infection statistics to Cornyn's staff and requested a clarification, a spokesperson said the senator was referencing a tweet by former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottleib in which he said data show children are "less vulnerable" to the disease.

However, Gottlieb's tweet also added that "less risk doesn’t mean no risk."

The senator is up for reelection in November and will face either Air Force veteran MJ Hegar or State Sen. Royce West, who are competing in the July 14 runoff to seize the Democratic nomination. Little surprise then that by 8 a.m. Friday morning, the Texas Democratic Party had already cooked up a response to Cornyn's NBC 5 interview.

“His refusal to correct a false statement when confronted with the facts shows Cornyn prioritizes his political allies over ensuring the wellbeing of Texans," TDP spokesman Billy Begala said in an emailed statement. “Texans want a Senator who values their safety over all else. Voters are fed up with John Cornyn’s misdirections, lies and excuses. Enough is enough.”

West sent out a statement saying he was in “in complete shock” over Cornyn's assertion.

“This flies in the face of scientific evidence and common sense,” West said. “His statement, with all due respect, is irresponsible and asinine."

What are the odds Cornyn's interview clip finds its way into a TV spot for Hegar or West come July 15?

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