Letter: Editorial ignored medical facts

Posted 8/10/21

To the editor:

The editorial that ran in the Barrington Times on Aug. 4, titled “Set the students free”, was inflammatory, erroneous and irresponsible.

Describing the CDC and state …

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Letter: Editorial ignored medical facts

Posted

To the editor:

The editorial that ran in the Barrington Times on Aug. 4, titled “Set the students free”, was inflammatory, erroneous and irresponsible.

Describing the CDC and state public health officials as “big government” is an attempt to once again politicize and delegitimize the experts that have attempted to use the best science possible to guide us through the realities of a global pandemic and offer guidelines to mitigate the horrendous effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the US and RI. It is this kind of inflammatory and false rhetoric about the institutions tasked with assimilating data and science into evidence-based public health guidelines, that has contributed to poor vaccine uptake and conspiracy theories in many parts of our country and our state. In short, it is why we are once again faced with rising COVID numbers and the necessity of mask mandates.

Stating that children are “largely unaffected by the virus itself” is a dangerous untruth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (certainly no link to big government), 14.3 percent of COVID cases in the US are from children. Last week, they accounted for 19 percent of reported cases. 1.3-3.5 percent of COVID hospitalizations are pediatric, including children with the devastating multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C). While it is true that there is far less serious illness in the pediatric population, long-COVID symptoms may be significant, even if the initial disease is mild. Studies have shown 12.9- 14.5 percent of 2-16 year-olds can suffer from long-term effects ranging from chest pain, cough, shortness of breath during sports, cognitive difficulties (commonly referred to as “brain fog”) and myocarditis. Children are also a vector for the disease; potentially able to spread disease to fellow students, school faculty, family and the community at large.

It is reprehensible and irresponsible to call on local officials to have the “courage” to ignore these medical facts and the guidelines for schools, derived from health professionals who have the expertise that the Barrington Times Editorial Board sorely lacks. One truth your editorial does share is the burden that COVID has placed on our students/children/families and communities. However, it is harmful and irresponsible to place the onus of what will likely be necessary masking on a lack of courage, creativity or innovation. Instead, let's have an honest conversation about why the Delta variant rages and what we can do together to mitigate it. Masks and distancing, as well as vaccines for those eligible, are the best safeguards we have to protect everyone. If we responsibly use these tools and follow guidelines informed by science, we may all get past this devastating disease and the horrendous consequences of COVID 19.

Pam Lauria, FNP, Carla Martin, MD, Michael Johnson, MD, Tom Chun, MD, Lynn E. Taylor, MD, Boris Skurkovich, MD, Christopher Clyne, MD, Alice Kim, MD, D. Audoen Maddock, MD, Reena Bhatt, MD, Elisabeth McGowan, MD

Barrington

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.