I wasn’t going to write this, but after reading the Washington Post’s story in Monday’s paper, I feel compelled to. These articles distort the data by reporting only cases that confirm their hypotheses (confirmation bias), making us assume that every school is a danger zone. Let’s face it, fear sells. Reporters are not scientists or statisticians and do not have the time or knowledge to understand scientific and medical issues.
The good news for all of us is that both the CDC and WHO websites provide accurate and current information from a layman’s perspective. Their articles are written by scientific writers and reviewed by scientists, so we can be assured of their accuracy. In addition to the CDC and WHO websites, NIH and medical journals are making all research on COVID 19 available, no subscription required.
Admittedly, scientific research has its limitations. First there is a temporal limitation. Research takes time. For example, before widespread testing, it was erroneously believed that children did not get this virus because there were few hospitalizations and their symptoms were so mild. Data has proven that children do get the disease, still their symptoms remain mild and hospitalization is highly unlikely. Another limitation is we have no data on long term consequences. And finally, there are not enough scientists to research all the questions, folklore, unconfirmed reports that arise.
Spreading myths, misinformation and fear is irresponsible and dangerous.
Myth vs Fact. There is a myth that COVID 19 virus is a conspiracy, not a problem, etc. therefore we don’t need to take these precautions. It is easy to believe this if you don’t know anyone personally who had the virus. But the data say otherwise. The death toll has climbed to over 150,000 people. Dr. Birx is reporting that the pandemic is spreading. The death of Herman Cain, who contracted COVID 19 eight days after attending a political rally should make it personal to those who still harbor this misconception. CDC has clear guidelines and Gov Hogan has posted new restrictions.
You can get the link to COVID 19 updates from The Spy.
Here are other sites that can help you understand of the current impact of the virus.
WHO has a website devoted to “myth busters.”
Children. Parents are understandably worried about their children. To date, it appears that most children are not seriously impacted by this virus. For example, the Washington Post article alluded to the problem of MIS-C in children. This is an extremely rare complication, only 2 children have been confirmed to have died from it and another 4 are suspected. The majority who get this very, very rare complication have recovered and it is not proven that COVID-19 is the source (correlation not causation); of those tested, 30% did not have the virus. The scientific journals remain cautiously optimistic; children don’t appear to spread it among each other; adult to child transmission is much more common. Parents must understand, though, that these are short-term results only.
At this time, the CDC cannot tell us the impact of COVID-19 on at-risk children (e.g., metabolic disorders, neurological issues, lung disorders, cancer), so they recommend the same precautions as adults who have these conditions.
“The data are striking,” said Dr. Raszka, a pediatric disease specialist from the University of Vermont. “The key takeaway is that children are not driving the pandemic. After six months, we have a wealth of accumulating data showing that children are less likely to become infected and seem less infectious; it is congregating adults who aren’t following safety protocols who are responsible for driving the upward curve.”
“While we don’t yet know the dynamics of the outbreak (in Texas daycare data), it is unlikely that infants and children in daycare are driving the surge. Based on the evidence, it’s more plausible that adults are passing the infection to the children.” Mathematical models confirm this and indicate that social distancing and masks are the best strategies for curtailing the disease. Schools have reopened in many Western European countries and in Japan after the spread of the virus was contained without seeing a rise in community transmissions. So, expect to see more alarmist articles like this one about children getting the disease in schools, but the sources of these infections are likely to be adults.
There are many opinions about opening schools. But the data are clear, schools should only be opened in states where the virus is contained, which at present is only a handful of states in the Northeast and NOT Georgia, Texas, Florida, etc. Let’s face it, children are reckless; and while child to adult transmission may not be common, it could be deadly. It is widely recognized that the adults who administer to our children are at the highest risk.
Young people, frustrated by a virus that has little impact on them, behaved as one would expect. Once the bars opened in Florida, the cases grew exponentially.
For scientifically approved information about COVID 19 and children:
For a scientific discussion about reopening schools (which is ONLY recommended AFTER states have the virus under control):
For a summary of scientific results relating to the disease in children.
Animals. CDC and WHO report that there is no evidence of across species transfer of COVID 19. Felines, ferrets, and minks are the most susceptible to the disease; some dogs have gotten it from their owners; but most farm animals are not susceptible to the virus. Animals can transmit it to their same species but not to humans. It is widely believed that the original transmission to humans came from eating bats in the Wuhan Provence in China. But in America, we don’t eat bats, so we have that going for us. Here are the websites about animals and pets.
Medications, Household remedies and prevention. At this time, there are several drug combinations (not hydroxychloroquine or disinfectant) that have been effective in treating people with severe symptoms. With some combinations, health professionals have been able to reduce deaths by up to one third.
WHO is also an excellent source for prevention and safety information (e.g., mail packages, impact of heat and cold on virus). WHO also provides guidelines about washing fruits and vegetables, packaging, etc.
Research. In an unprecedented move, sites offer free access to all research articles on COVID 19. These are exciting times; NIH is planning to offer 6 million COVID 19 tests daily by the end of the year. Two vaccine trials that have moved to their third and final phase.
WHO offers a global database of research on COVID 19:
For those who are interested in reading scientific texts, Science, Nature, and the New England Journal of Medicine offer their articles on COVID 19 for free.
Thanks to the Internet, we can get the facts straight from the scientists; this pandemic is too important to rely on anything else.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.