Ok, maybe I am wrong on this but hear me out...and see if we have a case of unintended consequences here in Davis.....
So, we are ALL dealing (even those in denial) with the corona virus threat. And I believe that everyone is trying to be as conscientious as possible in our decision making. Which is a bit of a challenge given that we have so very, very, very little testing data to know "how big this thing is" and that includes we lack community level data regarding who has the virus.
Even with the lack of large scale data which has been done in South Korea, we seem reasonably confident in some "knowns":
- The virus is contagious: "Currently, the R0 for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, is estimated at about 2.2, meaning a single infected person will infect about 2.2 others, on average.". This means.... it is going to spread. (https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-myths.html)
- The people who are most vulnerable are seniors and especially seniors with pre-existing health conditions. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/us-coronavirus-death-toll-reaches-100/2020/03/17/f8d770c2-67a8-11ea-b313-df458622c2cc_story.html). Others, such as children, may get the virus but are not being affected by the virus nearly as much.
- The reality is, most people who get the virus DO NOT SHOW SYMPTOMS. At all. And that goes for adults, seniors, and children. This is a game changer.
So, work with me on this one. If you think there is a flaw in my thinking, please bring it up. (But do your homework and think rigorously, I have been working on this and run it past some very smart people who think I might have a good point here.).
If the most vulnerable are our seniors and the least harmed are our children.... and the children can be/are unwitting transmitters.... then when we look at the decision to suspend school we have two main options:
- Keep the kids in school. This is the "base case" or default position.
- Send the kids home. This is the "novel case" (named after the "novel virus").
It is also novel because I don't think that this situation.... send the kids home for a month has ever happened before. No big deal if it has, I just don't recall it in 30+ years in Davis.
Ok, so it looks like the School District, at the urging of the Yolo County Public Health Department chose Option 2: Send the kids home. This seemed reasonable, the desire was to implement "social distancing" which would theoretically "flatten the case curve" which would delay, but not reduce, the incidence of illness.
But theoretically is theoretically and we live in the real world, don't we?
So, how does this work? Let's examine a "theory of action" or take it step by step in the implementation phase.
So, with essentially no warning or time for preparation, the parents are told "Take 'em, they're yours for the next month" and last Saturday received their children for the duration.... estimated to be one month or until April 12th. How are the families going to manage this?
The families that I talked to are scrambling. Some families have a stay at home parent (Mom or Dad) who can step up to have the kids full time (and don't think that this new situation is an easy adjustment or stress free). In some families, both parents are working but they have a baby sitter for at least some of the time the kids will now be at home. For some families, their kids are old enough and responsible enough to be left home alone (some estimates are that there are approximately two families in Davis that meet this criteria). And for the rest of the families, the strategy is "call in the grandparents"!
Across the US almost 40% of grandparents already care for their grandchildren and the percentage is expected to go up during this corona virus crisis. (https://www.newsobserver.com/
So, let me ask you.... and I'd love to be wrong..... did we just create the circumstances to give our seniors in this community the MAXIMUM exposure to the corona virus by dismissing the kids from school before any of them could be tested? Instead of "flattening the curve" have we, by spreading out the kids into the community and in heightened contact with their grandparents, actually accelerated the curve?
I am sure that all of you have seen the kids in Davis out and about... and of course spending more time at home. Is the "law of unintended consequences" gonna come and bite us on the rear end as our elders, with this heightened exposure from the kids who have been sent home from school, come down with this disease in increasing numbers?
All thoughtful comments, reflections, and even rebuttals are welcome. I'm just concerned and wanted to share that with you.