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WASHINGTON — President Trump is threatening to cut federal funding to schools that don’t reopen in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the former CEO of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, told Fox News it is a top priority of the White House to make sure kids are back in school in some capacity by the start of the fall semester.

“The health risks of them not being in school definitely outweigh the risks of them being at school,” Azar said. “We can reopen schools. We must reopen schools, and we can do so in a way that is safe for staff as well as for students.”

The threat from the president is being admonished by several in Washington. The National Education Association is warning against reopening schools. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter, “our schools and child care providers need more federal funding — not less — to be able to safely open.”

Some health care workers are fearful of a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) as some states are seeing surges in the number of people getting infected with the virus. Azar said if there are any shortages in the future they won’t be widespread.

“Yes, are they occasionally smaller hospitals that may have lower levels of supply? We are making sure we get them their supplies,” said Azar. “States have built up reserve supplies of protective equipment. We’ve told the governors of these states ‘we’re going to back you up. We’re going to get you what you need’.”

A new survey shows many from the non-profit Get-Us-PPE, shows the majority of medical institutions they survey have two-weeks or less worth of personal protective equipment

For nearly a month, coronavirus cases have been slowly rising throughout the US. Tuesday, July 8, saw the most cases reported in a single day with 64,771 Americans testing positive.