One of my most important sources for COVID-19 information is Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist who is the Director of The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. I never miss his weekly podcast and eat up every word when he is on a news show although I don't always agree when he voices an opinion.
Back in March of 2020, Osterholm predicted there could be 480,000 fatalities from COVID-19 in the U.S. on the Joe Rogan podcast. Osterholm said it was 10-15 times worse than the seasonal flu.
Osterholm admitted his biggest error when Alpha variant (b-117) didn't explode in the United States in the spring of 2021 outside of Minnesota and Michigan. In addition, he cautions repeatedly about needing humility in the face of this virus as our knowledge evolves so the science is corrected when we get more data. His podcast is on weekly. As I stated before, I never miss it although I get COVID-19 news from plenty of other sources too.
He talks about the schools around the 1-hour and 3-minute mark of this week's edition. These are my notes on his remarks about the schools.
He is asked by host Chris Dall about the schools. Osterholm responds that the schools are going to be a severe challenge and in a sense we have this real experiment going on and our kids are being experimented on and he has a real problem with that. Osterholm has five grandchildren himself.
He talks about the need for in-person education. He then says there are two camps: one saying we need in-person learning for kid's development, parents needing to work and economic issues with parents not being able to stay home. The other camp saying not on my watch, my kids are at risk; I don't want this to happen to my kids. In-class education people won.
They made recommendations to the CDC that are not based on science. They are from the first nine months of the pandemic, before we had Alpha and Delta. They concluded kids could be three feet apart and could put a hanky on their face and be fine. We know that is not true. Kids can transmit this virus and get infected readily. It is at a lower percentage for kids experiencing severe illness but we have challenges with pediatric cases and pediatric hospitalizations with kids in serious condition are at an all-time high now. Early weeks of school in Southern states have so many kids quarantined.
To think that we can stop a virus like this now being three feet from someone is beyond pixie-dust wishful thinking. He wants his grandkids in school but we have to acknowledge the risk. Many schools have not done improved ventilation. Many teachers are vaccinated but many parents are not. Once COVID is in the school it is like lighting a match in a small piece of wood that becomes a forest fire. Sending kids to school is an invitation to spread the virus. You can't put kids in a room where they are 3 feet apart. We need effective masking (N95, KN95s that fit kids).
CDC saying kids can be 3 feet apart reeks of anti-science. Osterholm supports CDC but CDC is just plain wrong here. There has to be an objective view on this. We need to do much more in our schools before we can put kids in schools safely. We need better ventilation, testing, respiratory protection. This is really critical and we don't have it.
Osterholm then talks about how the pandemic will eventually end. Please listen to the podcast.