Letter: Listen to facts, not opinions, when it comes to COVID

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the first opinion in the Readers’ Column of Aug. 15, 2021. I am requesting that The Owego Pennysaver Press revisit its policies for the Readers’ Column regarding the COVID virus, and either fact-check “opinions” about the virus or decline to disseminate what is misinformation. 

The COVID virus attacks everyone. Our only defenses currently are vaccination, and social practices like masking and distancing. People need clear, direct and scientifically accurate guidance now. There are many in our community who are attempting to provide that. 

My rebuttal to the “opinion” in this column is based on information from the American Association of Pediatrics at www.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/children-and-covid-19-state-level-data-report/, and the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/pediatric-hcp.html.

Your reader wrote, “Children are not in danger of getting the virus.”

“As of Aug. 5, nearly 4.3 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Almost 94,000 cases were added this past week, a continuing substantial increase. 

“From July 29 to Aug. 5, 2021, children represented 15.0% (93,824/623,590) of the weekly reported cases. 

“Over two weeks, July 22, 2021 through Aug. 5, 2021, there was a 4% increase in the cumulated number of child COVID-19 cases.” (AAP)

The reader continued: “…and if they do, they are safe…”

“Similar to adults, children with severe COVID-19 may develop respiratory failure, myocarditis, shock, acute renal failure, coagulopathy, and multi-organ system failure. Some children with COVID-19 have developed other serious problems like intussusception or diabetic ketoacidosis. Children infected with SARS-CoV-2 are also at risk for developing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).” 

“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children. However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, and its emotional and mental health effects.” 

“Among states reporting, children ranged from 1.5%-3.5% of their total cumulated hospitalizations, and 0.1%-1.9% of all their child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization.” (CDC)

And concluded:  “… and they are not in danger of passing the virus.”

“Recent evidence suggests that compared to adults, children likely have similar viral loads in their nasopharynx, seven similar secondary infections rates, and can spread the virus to others.” 

Sources include the CDC and the two following sources:

Yonker LM, Neilan AM, Bartsch Y, et al. Pediatric Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): Clinical Presentation, Infectivity, and Immune Responses. J Pediatr. 2020;227:45-52.e5. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.08.037external icon.

Laws RL, Chancey RJ, Rabold EM, et al. Symptoms and Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Among Children — Utah and Wisconsin, March–May 2020. Pediatrics. 2020;146(6):e2020027268. doi:10.1542/peds.2020-027268.

We all need to take responsibility and not spread false or misleading information. We must all take steps now to protect ourselves, our families and our communities, and especially our children, who may not be able to take steps themselves. 

Thank you,

Sherry Hocking

Newark Valley, N.Y.

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