Misinformation coupled with the politicization of the novel coronavirus by our president and his political lackeys have landed us in a precarious situation regarding the reopening of public schools, the health of our children, and ultimately, the health of everyone our children come in contact with. This debate comes on the heels of many states pushing for the reopening of business and walking back quarantine recommendations put forth by public health officials. Along with the country’s need to stem the financial crisis, arising from our current health crisis, the Trump administration and republicans alike continue to push the ill-thought out agenda of opening schools nationwide by this fall. While we continue to see extraordinary numbers of Americans infected with and/or dying from the virus, the reopening of schools appears to be a terrible plan and one that is entirely avoidable (much like the Trump presidency).
According to the New York Times, restaurants and bars remain the predominant setting where Americans are becoming infected by the virus and have been directly linked to large outbreaks in states like Texas and Florida, where such businesses reopened earlier than what was recommended by health officials. Within the past two-weeks, nearly half of all new community-based infections in San Diego were linked to restaurants. The fact that viruses are significantly more likely to spread among a population that is indoors and within close proximity of each other should be common sense to most people harboring only a semi-formed frontal lobe, yet we continue to see our fellow citizens and elected leaders repeatedly demonstrate that common sense, isn’t as common as we would hope. This is not to say that large groups are not incapable of spreading the virus while outdoors. The decision to hold the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle rally in South Dakota, an event expected to draw in hundreds of thousands, will prove as a case study in outdoor virus transmission. We can only wait and see what outcome will emerge from this rally.
Another recent reminder of this endless clown car fire we can’t seem to escape is that of Billy Woods, mayor of Marion county, Florida. Mayor Woods has informed his employees (and all visitors) that they would not be allowed to wear masks while at his office, because why not? Doubling down on stupid is the American way. Likewise, the Ocala City council attempted to issue an emergency ordinance requiring that individuals wear masks indoors, and again, in true Florida fashion, the emergency ordinance was vetoed by mayor Kent Guinn.
The social climate we find ourselves in today, one where a public health crisis can be reduced to a political platform for how we as individuals express our perceived freedoms and independence, keeps us in a perpetual state of uncertainty and conflict. With Trump continuing to lie and propagate misinformation to the American public, we now find ourselves in a difficult situation regarding the reopening of schools. While Trump continues to repeat the false statement that children are immune from the virus, The Washington Post reported that 338,000 children have been infected with the virus in the United States with more than 97,000 diagnosed at the end of July alone. Of those admitted to the hospital, one-third required admittance to the ICU. Children 10 and older have been found to transmit covid-19 as well as adults do. What will happen if we reopen public schools nationally? In Israel, it is believed that half of the country’s new infections could be linked to schools that had recently reopened. Are we heading in the same direction?
A grim foreshadowing may have come from Cherokee County Georgia where 10 separate schools have sent out letters notifying parents of students testing positive at their schools only weeks after reopening. One high school in the area has already shut down due to confirmed covid-19 infections and 900 students within the county have been ordered to quarantine. In Paulding county, a high school student was suspended for uploading a photo showing kids crammed shoulder to shoulder in the hallways, with the majority wearing no masks. If this is any indication of how reopening of schools will go, I think we are in for a worse wave of the virus than whatever we have been experiencing since March.
The push to reopen the country has clearly proven premature. Bars, restaurants, and other business operating indoors and that encourage the congregation of many people within close proximity of each other is a bad idea while in the middle of a pandemic. These recent failings might have served as a warning, an opportunity to rethink and pursue alternative options to slow the curve of this virus and reduce virus transmission and even death, but now Trump is fixated on sending our children back to public school to learn in person (while Trump’s son who attends a private school will not be attending in person) where the virus will likely spread like wildfire. Our children will in turn bring the virus home with them where they can share it with all whom they encounter. The virus will not be contained at schools. Schools will simply be an incubator for the virus which will fuel a new resurgence of infections and further decimate an already struggling country.
Much like the Pied Piper, Trump is attempting to lure our children away from home and back towards the classroom through transfixing our elected leaders, his supporters, and those whom I can only assume are wondering around with damaged frontal lobes, with his magical ability to make a bad situation worse. Trump is performing a “reverse piper”, leading our children towards the virus. To be honest, at this point, I wouldn’t expect any less of Trump or of his ragtag band of degenerates, but we as a nation really need to evaluate the current situation we find ourselves in and make our decisions moving forward very carefully. We cannot afford to throw more fuel onto this structure fire and we cannot continue to let this “piper” lead us down a worse path than the one we are currently are on.