The Centers for Disease control may be putting out some unpopular advice on Thanksgiving gatherings, but they’re issuing guidance about public schools that few parents will disagree with; that they should remain open.
This appears to be an area that even those who could be described as having a more “alarmist” attitude towards the coronavirus seem to agree. After New York City closed their public schools, the brother of America’s worst governor asked Dr. Fauci last night “The rate [of spread] in the city is 3%. What’s magic about 3%? The rate in the schools is .17%. Why close the schools? Why not close everything else before you close the schools? What am I getting wrong.”
Dr. Fauci responded “You’re getting nothing wrong. I agree with you completely. I think one of the things we need to do is, to the best of our capability, try to keep the kids in school. The numbers you said are true. If you look at the rate of infectivity — I mean, obviously, you want to be sensitive to the safety and the health of the children…the teachers. You want to do that. … Having said that, my feeling is the default position, keep the schools open if you possibly can. And you’re absolutely correct. I agree with you completely on that.”
And the CDC’s director Robert Redfield said much of the same. As Fox News reported:
When it comes down to where children are safest during the coronavirus pandemic, Redfield says schools are the best place to be.
At a coronavirus task force briefing held at the White House on Thursday, Redfield said evidence shows that students are contracting the respiratory illness from family gatherings and local events rather than schools.
“The infections that we’ve identified in schools when they’ve been evaluated were not acquired in schools. They were actually acquired in the community and in the household,” he explained, citing task force coordinator Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who believes Americans are getting comfortable in removing protective face masks.
“The truth is, for kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school, and it’s really important that following the data, making sure we don’t make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close,” Redfield continued. “I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K-12 schools — as well as institutes of higher learning — really are not where we’re having our challenges.”
Children are the demographic least at risk from the coronavirus. Over 50% more people above the age of 85 have died of coronavirus than those aged 0-64 combined. Fewer than 500 coronavirus deaths out of 217,348 recorded deaths (through the end of October) were people age 24 and younger.
While the coronavirus is far more deadly to older people than the flu, the flu is far more dangerous to young people than the coronavirus. We reported back in July that during the 2018-19 flu season, 21,012 of the 53.6 million children aged 5-17 in the United States required hospitalization because of the flu. That equates to a hospitalization rate of 39.2 per 100,000. According to the CDC, “the cumulative COVID-19-associated hospitalization rate among children aged <18 years during March 1–July 25, 2020, was 8.0 per 100,000 population.”
Or in other words, we don’t close schools for something that has over four times the hospitalization rate as the coronavirus, but we do for the coronavirus.