Question: Why can basketball and hockey players and their staff get tested for COVID-19 and know their results in minutes?
Answer: The NBA and the NHL are being extremely proactive. They adhere to all CDC guidelines including wearing masks and daily rapid turnaround testing. They have the resources to do so. One NBA general manager told ESPN, “Rapid-testing results are key to return to work, return to sports, everything,” “Whatever job you have and environment you work in, if you’re interacting with people, we’re all going to have to feel safe doing that. Sports isn’t any different.” https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29003625/nba-players-union-assessing-potential-covid-rapid-test-options
Question: Why do healthcare workers, caregivers, sanitation workers, meat packers, field workers, teachers, and children wait as long as ten days for reliable test results?
Answer: Increased testing has led to increased backlogs in test results for many reasons including the lack of a national test plan and the current administration’s lack of leadership, leaving supply-chain and testing protocols to individual states. Most of the population do not have the level of resources available to the NBA and the NHL. There is no reliable and affordable rapid turnaround test for the general citizenry.
Question: How do we to safely reopen schools?
Answer: The first part of this answer is a question. “What is the level of community transmission?” The CDC has provided specific strategies that schools can implement based on the level of community transmission reported by local health officials. The CDC guidelines are:
- no to minimal transmissions
- minimal to moderate transmissions
- substantial, controlled transmissions
- substantial, uncontrolled transmissions.
Each strategy builds on the previous one. Specifically number 2 reads: “If there is minimal to moderate community transmission, schools should follow the actions listed above [1.], and continue implementing mitigation strategies such as social distancing, use of cloth faced coverings, reinforcing everyday preventive actions, and maintaining cleaning and disinfection. This also can include ensuring that student and staff groupings/cohorts are as static as possible and that mixing groups of students and staff is limited.”
Like the NBA and NHL, reliable, rapid turnaround testing and compliance with CDC guidelines is the key. Without this, schools cannot reopen. We should listen to the advice of experts, trust in the science, and know and comply with the “big 5”:
- Wear a mask consistently and correctly
- Avoid crowds
- Stay six feet apart
- Opt for the outdoors
- Wash your hands
I am a f*****g doctor. I lead a health clinic in East Austin and treat COVID-19 patients. America is out of its mind thinking we are even remotely prepared for school this fall. We are definitely NOT ready & if people say we are, it’s either out of ignorance or arrogance.Dr. Pritesh Gandhi (Tweet) August 4, 2020
We need to learn from positive examples like Governor Cuomo of New York. By following CDC guidelines and basing decisions on facts and science, New York’s infection rate is less than 1%. New York schools are reopening with in-person learning but, with the caveat, that if the rate rises to 3%, they will close.
This means that schools, students, teachers and staff must comply with the “big 5”. If they do not comply, they will not be able to keep the numbers at current levels. The image below explains why New York can reopen in-person learning.
We know that community spread comes from not adhering to the “big 5.” We know that reopening bars, indoor dining, large gatherings, without compliance, has led to a spike in new cases. Now that we have confirmed that children can pass the virus as efficiently as adults, we cannot put them, their teachers and staff, and their families at risk for political or economic reasons.
Complying is expensive. The requirements for spacing, personal protective equipment, ventilation, rapid turnaround testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantining, for every school are well beyond the fiscal capability of any state or local government.
Federal leadership and funding are an absolute necessity. Unless schools have the resources to provide reliable, rapid turnaround testing and ensure that they can comply with the “big 5” they cannot safely reopen.
No one should look to Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos for public health advice – especially not the CDC. Schools cannot safely reopen for students and teachers this fall if Senate Republicans keep blocking the money schools and states need.Senator Elizabeth Warren (Facebook) July 8, 2020
The choice is simple: close bars or close schools.
To keep infection rates down, along with the “big 5”, Dr. Tom Frieden, Former Director of the CDC, recommends the way to control any pandemic is the “Box It In” strategy:
- Test – Widely
- Isolate – All infected people
- Find – Everyone who has had contact with an infected person (contact tracing)
- Quarantine – All contacts self-isolate for 14 days
The Trump administration has taken no leadership position other than threatening to defund schools if they do not reopen with in-person instruction. Instead of defunding schools, the federal government needs to fund state and local governments so that they have the resources they need to safely reopen schools. Joe Biden has a simple five-step roadmap to support local decision making on reopening schools safely and to help students whose learning was interrupted:
- Get the Virus Under Control
- Set National Safety Guidelines, Empower Local Decision Making
- Provide Emergency Funding for Public Schools and Child Care Providers
- Ensuring High-Quality Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Closing the COVID-19 Educational Equity Gap
Friends Don’t Let Friends NOT Vote!
The only way we can flip Florida blue this election is if we vote in huge numbers. Help a friend vote. Talk to them about how important their voice is this year. Know a young person who is eligible to vote for the first time? Talk with them about current events and make sure they vote early or show up at the polls on November 3.
With your help, we can and we will make a difference in our state, our country, and the world.
What Can You Do?
- Vote early!
- If you have a mail-in ballot, send it back immediately. It must arrive by Election Day or it will not be counted.
- Drop your mail-in ballot off at your Supervisor of Elections office OR any secure Early Voting dropbox in your county.
- Vote early in person! Click here for early voting days/hours/locations in your county.
- Vote for Joe Biden, and remind your friends and family to vote, too!
- If you do vote in person on November 3, you must go to your designated polling place. Find your poll location here.
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