As Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis continue to downplay the risk of the coronavirus to young people, infectious disease experts caution that asymptomatic spread among children can worsen the coronavirus outbreak. As schools across Florida reopen, the state is already experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases among children, with some schools already re-closing its doors.
While everyone wants students back in schools, Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have demanded schools reopen without offering the necessary guidance or resources to do it safely. Instead, they have threatened schools, failed to pass another coronavirus relief package to boost funding for schools, and spread misinformation about the risk coronavirus poses to young people.
Trump and DeSantis continue to downplay the risk of coronavirus transmission among children, contradicting infectious disease experts.
TRUMP: “Well, they do say that they don’t transmit very easily. And a lot of people are saying they don’t transmit, and we’re looking at that. […] Now, they don’t catch it easily; they don’t bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast.”
DESANTIS: “Nothing’s risk-free in life. There’s nothing we can do that’s going to be zero. But the risks are, what I would say low for the students, the risk of the schools being real drivers of the epidemic, certainly that’s not been validated in the observed experience up to this point. So in that sense, you take that and then you have to look, what are the costs of not offering in-person, and then make that judgment.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention report: “This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection (1–3) and, contrary to early reports (5,6), might play an important role in transmission (7,8).”
Dr. Deborah Birx: “We know that what happened across the South [in June] was primarily driven by 18-to-25 year olds […] with asymptomatic spread. Sending these individuals back home in their asymptomatic state to spread the virus in their home town or among their vulnerable households could really recreate what we experienced over the June time frame in the South. So I think every university president should have a plan for not only testing but caring for their students that need to isolate.”
Schools across Florida are already experiencing coronavirus cases as students return to attending in-person classes.
Statewide — Sun Sentinel: “In the past two-and-a-half weeks, as schools opened for in-person learning in some parts of Florida, Covid-19 cases in children jumped by more than 23% with about 9,200 new infections.”
Central Florida — Orlando Sentinel: “Nearly 450 Central Florida public school students and staff are in quarantine this week after positive COVID-19 tests were reported from their schools, officials said Tuesday.”
Osceola — Orlando Sentinel: “An Osceola County middle school will close for two weeks starting Monday after 10 staff members either tested positive for the coronavirus or needed to be tested because they’d been in close contact with an infected employee”
Manatee — Sarasota Herald Tribune: “The School District of Manatee County reported on Friday that positive COVID-19 cases had been reported in nine schools during the first week of classes, forcing an undisclosed number of students or staff into self-isolation for at least 14 days.”
Pinellas — Florida Politics:“With schools now in their second week of in-person learning, the Pinellas County Schools district now has 13 schools with reported cases of COVID-19.
Polk — The Ledger: “Polk County Public Schools continues to announce more COVID-19 cases nearly every day since reopening on Aug. 24, with one national media outlet calling Bartow High School ‘a COVID-19 fiasco in the making.’”
Brevard —Florida Today: “Nearly 300 recent Bayside High School graduates and their guests have been asked to quarantine after health officials said an attendee at Saturday’s commencement ceremony had COVID-19.”
Brevard — Space Coast Daily: “Brevard Public Schools Close Golfview Elementary Due to ‘Expanded Cases of COVID’”
St. Lucie — Treasure Coast Newspapers: “Forty students and 17 staff from three district schools have been ordered to quarantine since schools reopened Monday, according to school district officials.”
Florida Department of Health continues to keep the public in the dark about COVID-19 cases.
ABC Action News: “To date, it remains unclear how many Florida students and teachers in total have been exposed to coronavirus since the start of the new school year. The only information the state has disclosed about the virus in youth is a pediatric report which isn’t consistently released. As of Monday, the number of people under the age of 18 who have tested positive for COVID-19 since earlier this year is 54,054.”
Not just Florida: children are being exposed to major outbreaks at schools across the country.
There have been 20,000 cases at college campuses from 36 states. That’s up from 8,700 this weekend.
The child infection rate has increased 21% since early August.