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  • Harlan Gallinger, MD

Ask the Seattle Times to ask our leaders the hard questions!

Seattle Times and other local media needs to be challenged to ask different questions about school closures and serology testing. The article is titled "emerging research hints that closures help contain the coronavirus" but that is not actually proved by the research article the author cites as the basis of this news article. Here is a key paragraph from the article: "But school closures are only one part, Rauscher said. For instance, Washington was one of the last states to close relative to when its 100th case [of coronavirus] was logged — but it didn’t see the same rise in deaths that other states witnessed after that point. This suggests that other preemptive social distancing measures, such as closing businesses and workplaces, were also effective." Or more likely, that the widespread closures of business and workplaces where adults congregate had a much more significant impact that school closures where children congregate.


https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/as-washington-considers-reopening-schools-emerging-research-hints-that-closures-help-contain-the-coronavirus/


More importantly, the Seattle Times needs to be asking state leaders why we are not using these critical weeks and months as this first wave of coronavirus recedes, to test key populations within our state to answer these questions. Here in the article that discusses seroprevalance of coronavirus in children, the article notes that "researchers caution it is just a snapshot that doesn’t shed light on two of the most vexing unknowns about the pandemic: the role of children in spreading the virus, and what is likely to happen when schools reopen."


https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/in-big-survey-of-seattle-area-kids-1-had-antibodies-to-the-coronavirus/


These two articles support the belief that the coronavirus is neither common nor a significant health risk to young children (compared to influenza which was responsible for multiple pediatric deaths in King County this year). The important question to ask is: what is the risk and prevalence of transmission from young children to the adult staff that work with young children? We could answer that question in our state for just a few thousand dollars, so why aren't we?


Bottom line is that we should be utilizing serology testing to test EVERY worker who has been a part of the essential child care in Washington state over the past 3 months to see just how frequent coronavirus is transmitted from adults to young children. Alternatively, we could test every frontline health care worker who staff ERs and EMS in our state and from the "positive" serology cases, we could then test the young children in the household to see how frequently coronavirus is spread from adults to children. Either or both of these studies would require very little funding and provide robust data that our state could utilize to make policy decisions based on science rather than unsupported suppositions that coronavirus is spread by children therefore not opening schools will prevent transmission.

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