Coronavirus Chronicles — What Will It Take to Make Schools Safe?

We talked about the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and what they both recommend for schools, namely, protective masks and vaccination for everyone who has the medical go-ahead for that process.

The CDC also recommends, quite appropriately, that any clinical providers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should take care of that loose end as soon as possible. It is a recommendation that has some teeth in it, as hospitals and other institutions are tightening up. In June, Texas’s Houston Methodist Hospital shed 150 employees who either resigned or were fired over refusal to be vaccinated.

That may sound like a lot of resisters, but on the other hand, an amazing 24,947 workers at Houston Methodist had been immunized to meet earlier deadlines. Journalist Dan Diamond wrote two months ago,

A growing number of health-care organizations have opted to impose vaccine mandates, including the majority of hospitals in D.C. and Maryland. The University of Pennsylvania Health System last month announced that it would require its roughly 44,000 employees and clinical staffers to be vaccinated by September.

So, in places where the importance of saving lives is taken into account, the realization is hitting. Sick people, and fellow employees, need to be protected.

But what about protecting those who are currently healthy, like students? As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and asking students, teachers, and other employees to wear serviceable masks is a reasonable request.

Slow on the uptake

For far too long, both the CDC and the World Health Organization held onto the idea that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was transmitted mainly by droplets, which are relatively heavy and fall to the ground quickly. This belief led to the six-foot social distance rule. Meanwhile, research increasingly found aerosol transmission, which is quite a different phenomenon.

In April, a Lancet article by six eminent authors described how “Ten streams of evidence collectively support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted primarily by the airborne route.” To name just a few,

[L]ong-range transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between people in adjacent rooms but never in each other’s presence has been documented in quarantine hotels.

[A]symptomatic or presymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from people who are not coughing or sneezing is likely to account for at least a third, and perhaps up to 59%, of all transmission globally.

SARS-CoV-2 has been identified in air filters and building ducts in hospitals with COVID-19 patients; such locations could be reached only by aerosols.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “CDC says delta variant easily transmissible, recommends universal masking in school,”, 07/27/21
Source: “More than 150 employees resign or are fired from Houston hospital system after refusing to get vaccinated,”, 06/23/21
Source: “Ten scientific reasons in support of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2,”, 04/15/21
Image by Jernej Furman/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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