Coronavirus Chronicles — School Daze

All of a sudden, school is the hot topic. Minute by minute the outlook changes, as more and more influencers chime in with their thoughts on the concept of opening schools for a Fall 2020 session. This post looks at a factor that has to count: a misconception shared by most Americans — the idea that children don’t catch the coronavirus; or if they do, they don’t get very sick; and they don’t spread it around much. As it turns out, none of those beliefs holds up.

It’s not that anyone was lying to the public on purpose. From the information at hand, the situation appeared to be a certain way. Now, we possess additional data regarding the past, and the terrifying knowledge that the virus itself is capable of change. At the same time, the number of new outbreaks in the U.S. increases at a shocking pace. It is a volatile situation.

This is not what they told us

Among American children and teens, there are and have been well over 190,000 cases since the plague’s inception. Of those children, 670 of them had a miserable time in intensive care units, and 64 have died.

At some point, it seems like almost everybody just had enough of the whole coronavirus thing, and decided to ignore it. Of course, some people have never had much of a choice. In economically disadvantaged populations, few families have the means to practice meaningful distance or isolation. At any rate, parents have been venturing outside for reasons ranging from undeniable to inexcusable, and a certain number of their children are now feeling the effects.

Then, along came the American Academy of Pediatrics, announcing that even with the risk of sickness, in-person school is the best. After all, even though kids represent almost one-fourth of the population, they account for only 2% of the reported COVID-19 cases, and very few have been dying. So a return to brick-and-mortar school is the best.

But while we may have had enough of disease, it seems not to be done with us. All kinds of numbers started to explode:

On July 4, Florida reported a record high number of cases among children aged 19 and younger… [T]esting among kids increased 28% from June 12 to July 3, but new cases increased 238%.

In Oregon, cases among kids younger than 10 grew fivefold during June.

Disproving the myth that younger people are not much at risk, the month of June was cruel to Texas. As we have seen, the situation in the state’s daycare centers is abysmal:

The Tribune reports that people under age 50 are making up 50% of the people hospitalized in Dallas-Fort Worth hospitals and 30% of the people in critical care.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the governor tried to make staying home impossible, by defunding the entire $29 million online education infrastructure. Andrew Atterbury wrote,

The move […] will kill the Complete Florida Plus Program, an array of technology systems that faculty, staff and students throughout Florida rely on, never more so than now, in the midst of a pandemic that has amplified reliance on distance learning. The cuts include a database of online courses and an online library service that provides 17 million books to 1.3 million students, faculty and staff.

Then, the same journalist was able to report that, thanks to some fancy legal footwork, a portion of the needed budget can be reclaimed somehow, and the most essential parts of the program retained. But the state’s Education Commissioner is determined to have conditions return to exactly what they were before the pandemic.

Thomas L. Knapp writes, “He’s ordered the state’s government schools to re-open in August, operating at least five days per week and offering ‘the full panoply of services’.” Needless to say, a whole lot of competing political agendas are involved in such negotiations.

Amidst all this, the federal government has decided to stop funding local COVID-19 test sites.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How to Make Sense of Cases Spiking Among Young Kids,”, 07/07/20
Source: “It Doesn’t Look Good in Texas,”, 06/23/20
Source: “DeSantis kills online learning program amid virus resurgence,”, 06/30/20
Source: “Florida to rescue “essential” online education programs after veto,”, 07/01/20
Source: “School’s out. Reactionaries hate that.,”, 07/06/20
Image by Nao Iizuka/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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