OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez
Angry Schoolmarm Betsy DeVos is going to have to get a bigger ruler, because children and scientists keep disobeying and proving her wrong. The evidence has been piling up that reopening schools is the Wrong Choice, and this past week it became a tidal wave.
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First, there was Sweden, which became the cautionary tale of Europe for staying a bit too open, including grade schools. Sweden became the 6th WORST country in deaths per million (the U.S. is 8th). While the Swedish economy is much better off than the U.S.’s – we just had the worst quarterly decline since 1873 when records started – Sweden is doing worse than Denmark and other European countries, who made controlling the virus their first priority.
Then there were disturbing reports about schools from China. A study published last month in the journal Science found that children were about a third as susceptible to coronavirus infection as adults were. But when schools were open, they found children had about three times as many contacts as adults, and three times as many opportunities to become infected, essentially evening out their risk. Based on their data, the researchers estimated that closing schools is not enough on its own to stop an outbreak, but it can reduce the surge by about 40 to 60 percent and slow the Pandemic’s course.
Next was a German study which found that children who test positive harbor just as much virus as adults do — sometimes more.
Following that was the outbreak in Israel from opening schools, After Reopening Schools, Israel Orders Them To Shut If COVID-19 Cases Are Discovered. Israel’s decision came after numerous outbreaks among both students and employees. At least 42 kindergartens and schools have been shuttered indefinitely. More than 6,800 students and teachers are in home quarantine by government order. It’s an abrupt reversal of the post-pandemic spirit in Israel as officials lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions a week before. With fewer than 300 deaths in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had declared victory in early May over the pandemic and last week told Israelis to go to restaurants and “enjoy yourselves.” But by the weekend, the spike in cases led him to consider reimposing restrictions, including closing all schools. You can see in the graph at left how badly reopening hurt Israel.
Netanyahu’s actions, both in celebration and reversal, were eerily similar to those of Gov. DeSantis of Florida, who famously said on May 20 “We’ve succeeded, and I think people just don’t want to recognize it.” and now finds his state “leading” the country in both new cases and deaths.
In mid-July arrived the large Korean study of nearly 65,000 kids that showed that children in the 10- to 19-year-old age range could spread COVID-19 within households just as effectively as adults.
And from Italy: “…. if you reopen the schools, you’ll see a big increase in the reproduction number, which is exactly what you don’t want,” said Marco Ajelli, a mathematical epidemiologist at the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, Italy.
Following this world of evidence warning against in-person schooling – UNTIL your country has controlled the virus – came a series of domestic proofs. In yet another upsetting development, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported this week that “significantly greater amounts of viral nucleic acid are detected in children younger than 5 years.” In a study of children under five who show mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, those kids were found to contain higher concentrations of the virus compared to older children, teens and adults! The study, which was released Thursday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics also confirmed the Korean report that “replication of SARS-CoV-2 in older children leads to similar levels of viral nucleic acid as adults.”
Finally, just Friday researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that: “Based on current infection rates, more than 80 percent of Americans live in a county where at least one infected person would be expected to show up to a school of 500 students and staff in the first week, if school started today ”. So, if we open up schools, we’re going to get a surge of CV-19 cases. Period. Case closed.
While children survive the virus better than adults, they carry it to their adult family members (and teachers). And there is growing evidence that there are long term damages to survivors of CV-19. In the last Pandemic, an entire generation suffered persistent adverse health outcomes.
The Trump Administration correctly points out that schools provide necessary educational and socialization benefits, in addition to freeing parents for work. In some cases schools are a key source of food for children. And issues of inequality arise from remote learning. Studies have shown that younger children and those in lower-income districts do not learn as well online as they do in person. For lower-income children, that gap in learning can persist. Part of our rescue packages must be long term remedial education and remote learning resources for those disadvantaged. There is no denying the need for schools, but there is no denying we will create orphans – as in the last Pandemic – if we don’t control the virus first.
Without systematic testing, “We might as well put duct tape over our eyes, cotton in our ears, and hide under the bed” said Dr. Margaret Bourdeaux, research director for the Harvard Medical School Program in Global Public Policy.
The underlying motivation of the Trump Administration is their chance for re-election, not the welfare of children, or their parents, or even the health of the economy. It is intentionally deceptive to portray government actions such as quarantines as the cause of economic damage. The real culprit is the virus itself. We won’t have a healthy economy until we control the virus. Those pushing for school re-openings – especially without first funding and deploying the infrastructure improvements in spacing, ventilation, testing, tracing and quarantining necessary to control the virus – are providing a False Choice. It’s not ‘choose health or the economy’. The real choice is to do the Hard Work of first controlling the virus – as most advanced countries have done – and the U.S. government has not.
Betsy DeVos is like a Concentration Camp commander – she signed up for the ideology, and now she’s got to do the dirty work of killing to stay in power.
Alice Cooper nailed it in 1972**…
Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Making all that noise
No more pencils no more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks
Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not come back at all
School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely
Long Term CV-19 Damage
A. Key risk article: Covid-19 infections leave an impact on the heart, raising concerns about lasting damage
B. Irreversible long term effects: Brain, Heart, Lungs, Kidneys, Liver, Pancreas, Limbs, Neurological, Gastrointestinal, Skin, Musculoskeletal, Psychological, Erectile Dysfunction (that should scare the young folks…). Plus, From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists.
C. A small percentage of minors who test positive for COVID-19 develop a life-threatening condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), and it’s unclear if the disease has other long-term consequences.
Ventilation: It seems baffling that despite mounting evidence of its importance, we are stuck practicing hygiene theater—constantly deep cleaning everything—while not noticing the air we breathe. We Need to Talk About Ventilation How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?
Kitchen Sink Approach: Let’s throw the kitchen sink at covid-19 and get back to normal by October
Mr. Dieguez is a semi-successful, semi-retired MIT entrepreneur who has been known to take things seriously and thereby cause occasional controversy on the Coastside. He lives in Montara. He loves to respond to comments.