Thaddeus Swanek Thaddeus Swanek
Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 30, 2021


This week’s Path Forward event focused on the American business community’s response to the devastating surge of coronavirus in India and school reopening successes in the U.S.

The Path Forward, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event series, helps business and community leaders find the answers they need to execute a responsible reopening strategy for a post-pandemic world.

What Happened?
A discussion between U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark and the Ambassador of India to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu highlighted the vital help the American business community and federal government are sending to India as it deals with a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Ambassador Sandhu noted that the first flights carrying U.S. medical supplies had already departed for the country and specifically thanked the U.S. Chamber for helping to mobilize the business community and wider action.

The conversation then shifted to the reopening of U.S. schools as the percent of those getting vaccinated increases and cases decline. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said that as of today, 99% of Ohio students are back in school. In comparison, on Jan. 1, 2021 only half of students were back in school in the state, he said. Health experts also joined the discussion, saying that if mitigation measures are in place (like mask wearing and social distancing) then classroom activities are not a major source of transmission of the coronavirus.

What the Experts Are Saying:

“Now, with vaccines being increasingly rolled out across the country and more information about how to safely gather in-person, we want to see kids safely return to school and childcare so we can fully reopen our economy.” – Suzanne Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“I understand that even as we speak, additional supplies of medical equipment are being dispatched to India. The manner in which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, particularly, had mobilized support, brought together partners from other industry bodies, coordinated with the U.S. government, and delivered the most critical items—has been tremendously heartening.” – Ambassador of India to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

“Kids who are already behind, who may not be able to have an Internet connection, for example. May not have the parental support, maybe their parents are working two jobs…It was clear that we needed to get kids back in school.” – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

“We made the decision early on last summer that any kid that went back into school, they needed to be masked the entire time. We really attribute that to keeping the spread down.” – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

“The threat of COVID to children is far more minimal that we thought this time last year.” – John Bailey, Advisor, the Walton Family Foundation.

“What we’ve learned…is that kids tend to be the least at risk from this virus. It’s not zero, but it’s much, much lower than older populations. And also, the transmission of the virus tends to be a lot less with kids under the age of 10.” – John Bailey.

“[In schools] where mitigation processes are followed, transmission rates have been low. Primarily, rates of transmission among students have been related to athletic groups.” – Laurie Combe, President, National Association of School Nurses.

What You Can Do:
To learn how your organization can help in the fight against the coronavirus in India, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation website.

Also, please consider joining the Rally for Recovery Commitment, a U.S. Chamber-led program encouraging every company and organization to take three basic, but important, steps to get the country back to health and American workers back to work by:

  • Encouraging mask wearing and social distancing in the workplace.
  • Reducing barriers to employee vaccinations.
  • Communicating with your customers and communities about how to stop the spread of the virus.

Up Next:
Please join future Path Forward events to learn how to better protect you workers, customers, coworkers, and friends from the spread of coronavirus.

Additional Resources:

About the authors

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus is a senior writer and editor with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.

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