Since being prematurely assured by authority figures that children do not catch or transmit COVID-19, what a distance we have traveled. A July 30 story states, “85 infants under age 1 have tested positive for coronavirus in one Texas county since March.” One county. Eighty-five positive testers. Less than a year old. That was just a minor detail in reportage about a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Here is the mind-blowing quotation:
Children younger than 5 have between 10 and 100 times more genetic material from the novel coronavirus in their noses compared to older children and to adults…
Granted, this study was small, and was not about transmission of the virus, merely the existence of its debris in the respiratory systems of very young children. When the conversation turns to evidence of transmission via child, some say it’s just not there. The basic belief is that since March or thereabouts, many American children have been diligently protected from contact with anyone but a small family circle.
Others say, “Not as much as you think.” First, family members are people, who go in and out and have contact with other people, or even bring them home. A child may seem to be in a bubble, but when assessing their safety, it makes no sense to ignore how many others the fragile boundaries of that bubble might include.
A bad bubble?
Another of the multiple factors here is that home tends to be a space where the air is not continuously exchanged. This is currently seen as the worst scenario, because viral load is also believed to be an important part of the equation. A child at home, sitting around in an enclosed space, assailed by an ever-increasing cloud of aerosolized exhalations, taking in more invisible organisms every minute. The bubble that child inhabits could be a toxic one.
But if restrictive rules are in effect for public health, it’s not such a good idea to let kids outside, or take them out. Since fresh air is dangerous to seek outdoors, the only solution is to bring the fresh air in, which will be ugly in the winter.
What’s going on here, anyway?
“Corona” means crown, and that crown sits on the head of King Confusion. The two very different news stories that follow appeared within a week of each other.
In mid-June, journalist James Gordon described how, when Florida “reopened,” a group of 16 friends spent an evening at a bar. All of them caught the virus, and so did a number of other customers, as well as seven out of 49 of the business’ employees.
And yet, a story from Missouri at around the same time seemed to spell out a less drastic message. A hair salon in Springfield had adopted some good practices, like spacing out the appointment times, distancing the client seating arrangements, and best of all, covering their faces.
Two stylists nevertheless did experience COVID-19 symptoms, because, as it turned out, they had it. At risk were six other workers and 140 clients. (Reportedly, 98% of the clients were also masked.) The company said it would test any of the potentially exposed individuals who wanted it, but only 46 (or by a later report, 67) took them up on the offer. So the result was dependent on the fact that far fewer than half were tested. The amazing part is that apparently, nobody caught the virus.
(To be continued…)
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Study finds higher viral load in young children, raising questions about how likely they are to transmit the coronavirus,” CNN.com, 07/30/20
Source: “Healthcare worker reveals 15 of her friends ALL got coronavirus,” DailyMail.co.uk, 6/16/20
Source: “Incubation period closes: no clients contract COVID-19 from salon exposure,” SpringfieldMO.gov, 06/08/20
Image by Andrew Currie/CC BY 2.0