The Cynical CDC

The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Oscar Wilde

Today, the CDC announced that it would recommend that schools attempt to stay open, even though it is certain that the virus will spread rapidly this fall, especially in schools.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Closure of schools is rarely indicated,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Is this true? Well, it depends on what your indicators are, I suppose.

Does this virus cause serious disease and death?

Yes, it does. Because the US and other countries are hiding critical data, it is difficult to know exactly what the case fatality rate is, but it is clearly much higher than seasonal flu. Depending on who they are talking to, the CDC  itself sometimes acknowledges this.

Does the disease spread well in schools?

Yes, it does. This fact is obvious to anyone who has even cursory acquaintance with the news, not to mention numerous studies.

Would closing schools lessen the spread of the virus?

Yes, it would. There are many examples in different cities and different countries where closing schools had dramatic impacts on the number of infections and deaths.

Would closing schools hurt education?

It could, if no-one planned for it. However, there are many ways to continue school at home as over a million American families demonstrate, every year.

Will closing schools hurt the economy?

Yes.

From the Washington Post:

The Lancet study reported that school closings could help slow the pandemic, but a 12-week closure in the United States or United Kingdom could cost 1 percent to 6 percent of gross domestic product.

So, if we tally up all the indicators, only one points towards keeping the schools open: the economy. If we look past all the hand waving and excuse making, the only good reason for closing schools is to avoid the economic loss of having one parent home with the kids.

This won’t be emphasised by the CDC or other administration officials of course. Telling people that their lives have been weighed and found to be less important than the GDP is a hard sell. Easier to lie about the danger posed by the virus and the effectiveness of school closures.

The problem is, soon after schools open, the ICUs will fill up and the deaths will start. This cause and effect relationship will be obvious to all. It will be apparent to parents. It will be apparent to teachers. And it will be especially apparent to health care workers.

Parents, teachers and health care workers value lives over GDP. But then, they aren’t cynics.

People with a functioning conscience usually aren’t.

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Filed under public health, Schools

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