Health and Human Services secretary believes students should return to school in the fall

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- During an interview with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, ABC13 focused of three areas: education, testing and masks.

Alex Azar said he supports getting school children back onto campus this fall, and believes it can be done safely.

"We think it's imperative that kids get back to a physical environment," Azar said. "For so many of our K-12 kids, they get a lot of their healthcare at school, they get their mental healthcare at school, they get their nutrition services at school. And that's on top of the physical, the social, and the intellectual development they get from being physically there."

ABC13 also asked him about testing, the long lines, the lack of tests and the delays in getting results.

"It is too hard for individuals to get their tests, and it's taking too long to get results," Azar said. "We're working with the public and private tests as well as those who administer the test to increase capacity and dedicate capacity to hot zones like Houston. In addition, we've been surging in supplies as well as testing sites to Texas. We've worked with the governor. We're surging in military and HHS medical professionals. We've already sent teams to San Antonio. We've sent medical disaster teams, doctors and nurses into Houston, and we're going to keep fulfilling governor Abbott's requests there to make sure the people of Texas are supported through this."

Abbott's office confirmed that the feds have sent a lot of what state government has requested, and that there is an increased response in equipment and personnel.

Lastly, ABC13 asked him about masks, an issue that may be one of the most debated elements of the pandemic response.

"There is no conflicting message from the federal government," he said. "President Trump's guidance since we started reopening has been very clear. Social distance. If you can't social distance, or if you're at a setting where social distancing is difficult, wear facial coverings, and third, practice good personal hygiene."

That's not exactly correct. In May, The president didn't wear a mask for most of a visit in a crowded environment at an event at a Ford facility in Michigan. He told reporters he didn't want to give them the pleasure of seeing him wear one.

Then two weeks ago, he told the Wall Street Journal that wearing a mask was a double-edged sword. Regardless, Azar does encourage people to wear masks and comply with state and local orders. He said all of us must use our freedom to slow the spread and keep others safe.

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