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Carvalho on coronavirus in Miami-Dade: ‘We are not ready to reopen schools’

MIAMI – Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Wednesday that as long coronavirus cases continue to increase at the current rate schools will not be safe to reopen.

Carvalho met with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and epidemiologists who believe that the ideal environment to reopen schools would require that less than 10% of the people who get tested in Miami-Dade County are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The daily positivity rate in Miami-Dade was about 20% on July 5th and about 16% on Tuesday.

“It is actually counterintuitive and dangerous,” Carvalho said.

The positivity rate for children in Miami-Dade County has been high. According to the Florida Department of Health, about 40% of minors who have been tested in Miami-Dade for the coronavirus have tested positive.

Most of the children are asymptomatic carriers, Carvalho said. In Miami-Dade County, there have been 3,076 pediatric COVID-19 cases. Four boys, ages 1 to 14, and one 9-year-old girl were diagnosed with the rare COVID-19-induced multisystem inflammatory syndrome, data shows.

“The safety, the security, the well-being of our teachers, of our students continues to be the highest priority,” Carvalho said.

Carvalho also said he is looking forward to reopening schools and so are many of the 200,000 parents who responded to a recent survey. About 48% said they wanted distance learning, and the rest of the parents want their children to be able to return to a classroom.

Sandra West, the president of the Miami-Dade County Parent-Teacher Association, is concerned about the parents who are unable to supervise their children during work hours.

“I’m hoping that the community will respond with appropriate alternatives for daily care,” West said.

On Tuesday, Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie recommended the continuation of distance learning until there is a decrease in coronavirus cases. He also doesn’t think the current data promotes a safe return to Broward County classrooms.

There is also the challenge of preparing for the new safety measures. Both districts will have to spend more on custodians, hand sanitizers, and personal protective equipment. Social distancing will also require more school buses and drivers. Both are counting on the federal government to provide more aid.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for students to be physically present in classrooms.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for students to be physically present in classrooms. (Shutterstock)

THE SCIENCE

‘Do children resist infection for some reason?'

The Associated Press

It’s not clear why the disease has had such a limited impact on children, compared to other age groups.

People older than 65 are well over 100 times more likely to be hospitalized for the virus than people under 18. But so far, there’s no explanation why.

Do children resist infection for some reason? Or is it that, even when infected, they are less likely to develop symptoms? If so, what does that mean about their chances for passing the infection along to others, like their grandparents?

In largely sparing children, the pandemic virus echoes the bugs that caused SARS and MERS, said Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Florida.

Scientists wonder if children might have some key differences in their cells, such as fewer of the specialized proteins that the coronavirus latch onto. Or maybe their immune systems react differently than in adults.

While the virus has mostly bypassed children, researchers have recently been troubled by a serious, albeit uncommon, condition in some young patients, that can cause inflammation in hearts, kidneys, lungs and other organs. Most patients recover, but the potential for long-term damage remains uncertain.

“This is what happens with a new virus,” Rasmussen said. “There’s a lot we don’t know about it. We’re on that steep learning curve.”

Raw video: DeSantis discusses reopening schools with Miami-Dade mayors


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