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Sprinkles from the Left

Commentators on the Left appear mainly focused on America reaching herd immunity through vaccinations, citing the increasing strength of virus mutations.

  • They argue adults who are able to do so have an obligation to get vaccinated in order to protect those who cannot – namely, young children and people with certain medical conditions – and facilitate a return to full normal life.

“As both parents and pediatricians, we’re troubled by the governors who appear to have declared victory, removing mask mandates, fully reopening businesses, and acting with apparent disregard for what this virus is capable of. What was true a year ago remains so today: children are only protected when adults do their part. When adults get vaccinated, a growing body of evidence suggests that they also protect those who cannot: children and people with medical conditions which preclude them from being vaccinated. But until children are vaccinated, they and many adults in their communities will be at risk, and a full return to normal life is premature…

The silver lining of this pandemic — that children have largely been spared the worst health effects — has fed our complacency. Children have represented a smaller percentage of cases overall, and among children who have gotten COVID-19, most have had either mild symptoms or none at all. Even so, hundreds of children have died, and many have endured long-term effects. The National Institutes of Health is in the nascent stages of gathering enough data to better understand COVID-19’s impact on children. What we do know is that the virus remains a threat, especially in those children with underlying health conditions and other disabilities.

Recent trends should make parents, other caregivers — and especially policymakers — think twice about letting down our guard: more than 73,000 kids were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the first week of April, the highest weekly total in nearly two months. Similar to what we’ve seen with adults, children of color have fared the worst, with Black and Latino children representing nearly 70% of children who have been diagnosed with a related, severe pediatric inflammatory illness known as MIS-C. Tragically, more than 40,000 children have lost a parent to COVID-19, with a disproportionate share of the losses being borne by Black children, according to a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics. In addition to the direct toll COVID-19 has taken on children, the indirect toll from parental loss, social isolation, and economic hardship has had significant psychological impacts.”

Richard E. Besser and Julie Morita, USA Today

“Even as we accelerate vaccinations, an immovable force stands in the way of achieving community immunity: Millions of Americans who are simply saying ‘No way.’

As of mid-April, both Florida and Michigan were hot spots for the more severe B.1.1.7 Covid-19 variant that originated in the U.K. and that is now the dominant strain nationwide. This variant is also sending younger, previously healthy people into our hospitals. With the coronavirus mutating to become more contagious and possibly more lethal, vaccination is more important than ever.

Yet, vaccine refusal — not reluctance, not “maybe later,” but flat-out rejection — could prevent us from reaching the threshold when epidemiologists say we can safely and responsibly fully reopen all aspects of society. Recent surveys like this one from CNN put that number at around one in four people…

These conversations won’t be easy, quick or necessarily successful. A family physician colleague in a small rural town in the middle of Michigan shared a story about talking to a patient, a longtime leader of the Michigan Militia, about vaccinations. Despite his curt dismissiveness, she persisted, she listened, she walked through the cost-benefit analysis of getting the vaccine vs. getting a virus that’s 10 times deadlier than the flu. By the end of the office visit, the militiaman told his family doctor that he would get vaccinated.”

Dr. Rob Davidson, emergency room physician and Dr. Bernard Ashby, vascular cardiologist (published in NBC News)

Sprinkles from the Right

Commentators on the Right appear mainly focused on reopening schools, saying the science in favor of doing so is abundantly clear.

  • They also contend progressive lawmakers are ignoring pandemic science by requiring masks and restricting some activities in outdoor situations, where evidence has shown virus transmission is incredibly rare.

“Whether Joe Biden wants to admit it or not, the science on reopening schools is abundantly clear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that community spread of COVID-19 in schools is low, and that children only need to be three feet apart to remain safe.

They have also concluded that it’s safe to reopen schools even without all teachers fully vaccinated. Thankfully, around 80% of educators have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, putting them in safe position to return to school. And we have known since the pandemic’s inception that COVID-19 doesn’t pose a severe threat to the vast majority of children…

The fault doesn’t lie with our teachers, many of whom are eager to return to in-person schooling and have worked overtime to help our kids through endless virtual classes. Unfortunately, the fault lies squarely with powerful, left-wing special interest groups, which are approaching this complex situation with an eye to political expediency instead of our children’s welfare.“

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Fox News

“Research has shown that, with appropriate precautions, in-school learning may be safe. Though returning kids to school is contentious, it is at least worth discussing, especially given that 70 per cent of youth have reported deteriorating mental health due to remote learning and isolation…

Other examples of bad policies include restricting outdoor activities (such as closing beaches and playgrounds) and pushing for outdoor mask usage, despite overwhelming evidence showing that outdoor transmission is incredibly rare. While the rise of more dangerous variants has complicated risk calculations, their impact seems overblown. Outdoor activities remain safe, continue to account for a small minority of new cases and ought to be exempt from onerous public health restrictions…

As things return to normal, it will be important to ensure that reopening plans are governed by science, rather than fear. It will be crucial to find ways to communicate with people who feel the need, consciously or not, to cultivate the pessimism that has provided so many doomers with easy moral, social and political capital.”

Adam Zivo, National Post (Canada)

“‘The real issue now is how are we going to get parents to trust that schools are safe so that they send their kids back to in-person,’ American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten tweeted last week.

‘NYC schools are open,’ New York Times education reporter Eliza Shapiro tweeted inaccurately last week, attempting to fact-check an Andrew Yang campaign advertisement. ‘The issue [is] that ~600K parents have decided to keep their kids learning from home. Getting those parents back is the actual challenge here.’

As Weingarten and Shapiro know full well (and are reminded of every time they post misleading stuff like this), the decision to keep kids home is not an expressed preference between the binary choices of fully remote and fully in-person instruction. My 7th grader attends school twice a week, and almost never on those days has a live teacher each period. (The kids have been sent outside to ‘play on their phones’ more times than I can remember.) Other middle schoolers and high schoolers, after spending most of the year distance learning, were offered the non-enticing prospect of spending the waning months of a wasted school year going half-time into a classroom where they could all receive instruction by a remote teacher via Zoom…

So what will parents do? Increasingly, they will choose non-public options. Hesitancy may have less to do with schooling, and more to do with who is providing it.”

Matt Welch, Reason