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JLeslie's avatar

Why do so many Americans think school is the big driver of covid cases?

Asked by JLeslie (61561points) 1 month ago from iPhone

I know much of the media has been screaming about schools for three months, but look at the cases with your own eyes. Look at the graph, snd keep in mind COVID grows exponentially.

Cases went up dramatically over the summer when school was NOT in session.

Schools actually send sick kids home and most schools quarantine the entire group of kids that might have interacted with the sick child If they aren’t using masks. Im completely in favor of these precautions and without them I do think the cases would be astronomical.

I completely understand that viruses spread in schools, but I see travel as the main spreader. Holiday travel when millions of people are moving around the country.

Sure cases will go up when it starts to get cold. Thanksgiving and Christmas travel and congregating with family and friends snd heading South for palm trees will likely trigger the next huge surge.

Does it ring true to you at all that the governments at every level don’t want to hamper travel and tourism because of tax revenue, viability of businesses, economy, and morale?

If you have data to the contrary that school is actually a bigger concern than travel I’m interested.

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37 Answers

janbb's avatar

I don’t have comparative statistics but certainly this article made me feel that schools could be a big factor in transmission when vaccination was not required. (And many school districts in the country do start in August.):

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/08/1035157226/miami-covid-19-deaths-schools-district

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s a concern because you have a bunch of kids in one room, and kids can’t keep their hands to themselves. It’s only logical.
Same with daycares.

chyna's avatar

My county Board of Education refuses to mandate masks or quarantine. No one on the board has a medical background. Funny, (not) but the parents against masks and vaccines and contact tracing are the loudest, rudest and most obnoxious at these meetings.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Where I am cases went up DRAMATICALLY when the kids went back to school.

JLeslie's avatar

Two be clear I think BOTH are a concern. School and travel. I just don’t understand how so many people fail to recognize the travel as a significant problem.

@chyna They do nothing? That is concerning. A kid is diagnosed with COVID and nothing happens? Do they notify the other parents in that class? I assume if your school had a huge outbreak they would do something, maybe close a few days like schools do for flu, or if a kid was hospitalized or died God forbid.

@janbb From your article: Carvalho said that among the 13 deaths, the majority of people contracted COVID-19 and died before the beginning of the school year. One person had direct contact with students, he said.

Many many of the reports of huge quarantines in Florida schools were the first week of school. The kids and staff came to school with covid during our huge surge in Florida, which no surprise I blame primarily on tourists.

@Blackwater_Park Where? It doesn’t surprise me that did happen in some pockets in the country.

janbb's avatar

To be sure, it is both that are worrying. I have a number of friends and family who have canceled trips to Florida because of the lax policies there.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb It’s not just about the policies in Florida, but for sure the virus can easily be transmitted between people here since there are almost no restrictions.

Counties in FL with the densest populations, people do follow more protective procedures. More masks indoors in public area and they tend to be more vaccinated too. Those counties wound up with positivity rates around 15% while the counties in the panhandle, which you might as well consider to be part of the Republican South went up to 34% positivities rates in some counties.

COVID mandates and orders would not affect people traveling to visit family and friends and getting each other sick like on July 4th, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackwater_Park TN started exploding with cases before school started. Maybe your specific city it’s different, I don’t know what city you are in. The state curve is similar to FL. It was climbing steeply through the summer.

You know what I see when I look at TN? People going to Destin, FL for summer vacation. Destin happens to be in one of the counties above 30% positivity rate 4–6 weeks ago in FL. Many along the panhandle beaches were in the 30% range.

The people of the volunteer state, a state which I happen to love, a state where people aren’t very vaccinated, came to FL, mixed around in cities where Floridians aren’t very vaccinated, and then brought COVID back home to TN.

My husband has been in Nashville for a month. More masks in Florida than Nashville in our experience.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@JLeslie I went to Destin in May. It was easy to stay isolated from people and enjoy vacation. It was easier to isolate there than it was here believe it or not. I was fully vaccinated then to be fair. Cases in east TN spiked once school started. It was trending higher before but mixing unmasked, unvaccinated kids really caused those numbers to take off. Thankfully it looks like we are on the downward slope now.

cheebdragon's avatar

The first week my kid was back in school, 6 students tested positive for covid. The 2nd week over 30 students tested positive and just finishing the 3rd week of school the number has jumped to 52. I’ve been notified 2x that my child has been in direct contact with a student that tested positive. They just recommend keeping on eye on your child for possible symptoms and keeping them home if they have any. Students who have been vaccinated were asked to report to the gym before school the next day and their names were crossed off a list. They didn’t ask for proof of vaccination, just for their name and sent on their way to class. At the end of the last school year they were back in classrooms for the last 2 weeks of school and every morning students had to go thru symptom screening before school, to the best of my knowledge, no students tested positive during that time. My kid has been vaccinated so I haven’t been too worried about it yet but friends of mine with kids in other local districts have all said they’ve received notices about their kids being in direct contact with covid also.
Last year was a really dark time for some students, being isolated and issues with distance learning led to several students committing suicide, my sons school alone lost 4 students. A lot of kids are so excited to be back around friends they are willing to ignore and hide their symptoms.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackwater_Park Lol. I mean we have to laugh that you actually went to Destin don’t we?

You seem to care about not taking too much risk, but a ton of Tennesseans who were in Destin and other parts of North Florida, and even in the Disney area, were not careful at all.

Remember COVID grows exponentially and it takes four days on average for symptoms to appear, so spikes in cases the first week of school are likely mostly from the week before. Are the cases coming down now? Now, while school is in session?

JLeslie's avatar

@cheebdragon Last year they went back into the classroom when cases were probably low in the community to begin with.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

They are coming down School started in early August. I have a hard time believing that large groups of people who are unmasked, unvaccinated and in close proximity are not contributing to the spread. I know more than a few teachers here and they’re all saying that school is spreading Covid like wildfire. One if them is going to quit because she is immune compromised and they will not tell her when one of her students has tested positive. The Delta variant has a signature curve and thankfully we are on the other side of it so hopefully we will see some relief soon.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackwater_Park I’m not saying schools don’t contribute, I’m saying the media and politicians are ignoring tourism as a huge culprit, and for some reason a lot of people aren’t figuring it out.

If we had more precautions for travel much much fewer people would be sick and dying. That’s my opinion and my gripe.

Most schools do something about outbreaks to quell the spread.

Relief until Thanksgiving is my prediction. We might see an uptick just after Halloween too, but I think it will come back down.

Edit: I think the curve is we behave differently and stop passing it around.

rebbel's avatar

I have no idea who, or how much of them, are the people who don’t see traveling as a main spreader; this is how the whole world got infected in the first place.
And during the lockdowns this was widely and repeatedly stated and warned about.
Don’t go to super-spreader events, because you need to travel to and from.
So how do you come to the conclusion that “many people” fail to see/understand that?
@JLeslie

canidmajor's avatar

People are not failing to understand that travel is important in this equation, @JLeslie, but the fact that most travel is a matter of choice, and school is not, is a big factor.

I think your assessment that many people don’t see travel as an issue is simply wrong.

JLeslie's avatar

@rebbel Why do I think that people aren’t honing in on travel being the biggest problem? Cable news, Facebook, fluther, to name a few.

Fluther was full of jellies saying cases will go up when kids go back to school, and I’ve been pretty much the lone person saying for months when kids go back to school I think cases will finally start to come back down. Especially, in my state.

I see it as Democrats walking right into the distraction trap and Floridians dying! I just heard about another death in my community. Democrats blame DeSantis for cases and deaths in FL, but the media and blue politicians generally are not talking about the covid curve going way way up when school is out. Most people are saying cold weather will start a new surge because kids are in school. They are in school now!

I realize people have some understanding that tourism creates cases.

I think it would be worth drilling home to the American people that travel and tourism is really where we see the huge surges in cases. Maybe people would be a little more cautious. I wish we had a mandate for people to wear masks indoors for a week after crossing state lines. Thank goodness they are sticking with masks on planes.

chyna's avatar

Headline news just said that schools without a mask mandate are 3 times more likely to have a Covid outbreak. To me, that’s 3 times too much.

janbb's avatar

@chyna And the fact that Florida’s governor is threatening to withhold funds from districts that require masks seems criminal to me. At least the airlines are trying to control transmission.

And we have to remember that children under 12 have no option to get vaccinated as yet.

chyna's avatar

@janbb Exactly. I have 2 very good friends that live in Florida, one is a doctor, and they both think the governor is evil and hopes he doesn’t ever hold a place of power ever again.

canidmajor's avatar

@chyna Your friends in Florida are kinder than my friends in Florida. They wish a lot worse on him than that, as they fearfully send their kids off to school.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie You are creating a false equivalency with slightly misleading interpretations of language.
People are emphasizing the concern now of school-caused surges, because in-person school is starting up again, and the Delta variant is proving to be a lot harder on kids in general than the previous strains.
Everybody already knew about travel. These are newer issues to deal with, and, frankly, of greater concern to lots of Americans because it involves the health of children, not just people who want to go places.

Brian1946's avatar

I would not mind Abbot and DeathSantis contracting terminal cases of Covid, being evicted from an airliner while in flight, and falling into a crowd of anti-vaxxers.

JLeslie's avatar

People have been talking about schools all summer, not just the last few weeks.

I ignore what DeSantis said about masks in schools, because the courts ruled against him and the counties with the most concern have masks in school, they don’t give a damn what the governor says, including counties run by Republican mayors. The schools and mayors are ignoring DeSantis and taking him to court, it’s being taken care of. The governor is not going to order masks in all schools, so that’s off the table. This is all political strategy that was not helping Florida contain cases in July and August.

No one was really talking about travel that I saw, they were talking about DeSantis, the unvaccinated, and masks in schools, all of which matter to me, but I felt an absence of addressing what was making Floridians sick and killing us during the summer, and during the summer it’s people visiting our state, along with a lack of measures here in the state. Then people bring the COVID back home to their state.

Florida affects the entire country.

Thank goodness flights still mandate masks, I hope it stays that way.

@chyna I would have guessed more than three times. Why isn’t the TV news talking about WV? Just TX and FL children matter?

chyna's avatar

As far as I know, it’s just the ignorance of the school board in my county, not all of WV. It has all been coming to a head these last 2 weeks. My county is the second biggest in the state, so you may be hearing about it soon. Then again, no one cares much about WV, so you may not be hearing about it.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna When you heard about DeSantis did you also hear the reporting from Florida counties that were going against him and mandating masks? I just wonder if that was picked up much on the national news, maybe I missed it. Similar to what you are saying that the WV might start to get reported nationally, we’ll see.

The story @janbb linked was in a county that always planned to mandate masks for students and Mayor Suárez there (Republican) had been outspoken for weeks saying DeSantis was not behaving like a conservative trying to tie the hands of the local governments. I feel like most people who would read that article assume the deaths were because of DeSantis anti-mask mandates in schools, but in that county DeSantis’ mandate had no effect.

I think there is a huge effort to make sure DeSantis doesn’t get re-elected and that drives the narrative more than delivering complete information.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Thank you for that update! I’ll have to tune into some local news. Looks like schools will be ignoring that ruling according to the article.

It doesn’t change cases have been going down the last couple of weeks now that the country is back in school and staying more in place.

janbb's avatar

Hey @JLeslie – don’t be so mad that we pick on Florida, we pick on Texas plenty too! And New Jersey gets its share of abuse, just for other reasons. (And by the way, the Jersey Shore is overrun with tourists all summer too.)

And here’s an update on West Virginia. Top of the CNN news:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/26/politics/west-virginia-covid-analysis/index.html

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I’m not mad people pick on Florida. I’m angry people ignore what is driving COVID cases and especially I’m angry they ignore it regarding Florida. Sure they talk about vaccination rates (important) lack of masks (important) but I’ll sound like a broken record, people traveling around is spreading it around.

Florida is usually the number one travel destination in the summer domestically. $$$$

What DeSantis says is always twisted into something bad. He says a lot of really bad things, but not everything, and often when it’s something being twisted it kills more Floridians. I really believe that.

I’ve seen the WV governor asking people to please get vaccinated. That CNN article talks about the uneducated not getting vaccinated—are liberals going to continue to make the mistake of putting that in print?! That won’t be persuading people with high school diplomas to get vaccinated, that will cause them to dig their heels in more. Which ironically is what DeSantis said and many experts and doctors who have been able to persuade people to get vaccinated.

JLeslie's avatar

Here you go. Last few comments by our resident doctor. School school school. No mention of travel. https://i.fluther.com/228467/here-is-another-covid-ama-thread-that-i-really-dont-want/#quip3746472 That’s one example of what I mean by I think holiday travel is ignored by jellies also, although my bigger concern is our local governments ignoring it.

Other countries have dwelled on not letting people cross into other regions or crossing state lines without quarantine, but the US has basically ignored it except in the first few months, or states like HI was an exception.

tent's avatar

Because it is. Just this past week I’ve received three notifications of positive cases at my son’s school. We have over a 100 in quarantine.

tent's avatar

I have not heard of anyone denying that travel plays a part. Any congregation of people does.

JLeslie's avatar

@tent I don’t mean people are denying travel, I mean it’s not being talked about and pushed through the media like schools and when people talk about cold weather and flu season they immediately talk about school being in session and not people traveling and congregating.

You have some cases in your school, let’s say it’s 20, and now your school has taken a measure to stop the spread; they quarantined kids. If those same kids had been traveling to grandma’s house, Disney World, and even crowded tourist attractions in your state, they would have infected hundreds, maybe thousands more in less than a week. It’s not that there aren’t cases in school. Kids are in school now, and total cases are going down in most places.

I think there should be media focus on schools, I just don’t hear much of anything about travel except that they are still saying they are not finding much transmission from flying. The narrative is practically the opposite when they bring up travel, pushing travel as overall safe. Ok, the flight might be relatively safe, but when they get to the destination is another story. I do know a couple who is 95% sure they caught COVID in an airport (not on a flight) sitting near someone who was coughing without his mask up.

Demosthenes's avatar

Well, California just mandated vaccines for all schoolchildren. So someone definitely thinks schools are a primary site of transmission.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes Schools are a primary concern. I’m not saying they aren’t. Especially, if schools had no COVID protocols across the country it would be a huge spreader of the virus, but schools do have protocols.

Even schools that are seemingly doing nothing, believe me they would kick into gear for huge outbreaks or if a death happened. Even schools seemingly doing nothing get a sick kid tested or send the child home. That same sniffling kid would be in Walmart in Florida, buying a pool noodle, parents ignoring it as just a cold or allergies, visiting their friends who live here, and not wanting to curb activities during their $2,000 family vacation.

I think if the CDC and news sources talked about travel more, and reasonable measures, people would do a little more to be cautious.

Now, there is a theory being promoted about all the COVID waves lasting approximately two months and burn out. I say bullshit. It’s not some natural curve from what I see, it’s holiday travel more than anything.

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