By John Klar
History will testify that the American response to COVID was a travesty and a scientific failure.
When COVID struck, no one knew the mortality rate. Obtaining accurate data on these numbers remains elusive. “Science” informs us that COVID is extremely virulent and deadly for the very old and almost harmless to the very young. We have shut down businesses and schools, and imposed a crushing psychological and economic burden on America’s children, for a disease that threatens a tiny demographic swath.
The science suggests the elderly should shelter in place and receive the first vaccines, while children thrive.
Americans have seen a pandemic that impacts a slice of our population before, with HIV/AIDS, which initially infected the gay community. Prejudices led to foot-dragging, and a deadly scourge spread into the intravenous drug-using population and prostitutes, bridging to the heterosexual community. The infection of a tiny sub-community was a gift: AIDS could have been contained, but fear and ignorance instead opened Pandora’s Box.
America has now made a greater error: sacrificing our children’s futures for irrational fears of COVID. There is a cultish religiosity in the terrified histrionics that “you will kill grandpa.” Dragging out this response from “flattening the curve” to “permanently damaging children’s psyches” — and maybe protect octogenarians — is a disgrace.
No one wants anyone to die in a ventilator. But arguably, this stifling COVID response puts the vulnerable at greater risk than if society moved on and developed herd immunity. Some say we don’t know whether we will develop immunity; we also don’t know whether the vaccine will work. Why must our sole rescue be pharmaceutical in nature?
Human deaths from disease are indeed a concern, but so are deaths of iconic businesses like the New England Culinary Institute, Cheers, and the thousands of restaurants and small businesses that have been killed by COVID. Death from COVID is real, but so too is death from domestic violence, suicide, opioid overdose and starvation. Death is final — so too can be the mental health damage to millions of children already suffering from a cacophony of fear-mongering by the left (using “active shooter drills” and the end of all life from climate change in about 10 years now).
As of Dec. 28, the CDC reported 61 total U.S. COVID mortalities for children under age 4, and 142 for ages 5-17, out of 232,558 deaths. This translates to 0.026% of mortalities for under-4s; 0.0061% for 5-17s, excluding the healthy kids who didn’t even get tested or diagnosed. The overall COVID mortality rate for healthy children approaches zero.
Notwithstanding the unexplained phenomenon that flu deaths have apparently, mysteriously ceased, the CDC reports a single child flu death since COVID. That makes COVID look pretty scary — except, in “normal” years, flu kills 100-to-200 under-18s (and 282 in the 2009-2010 season). Further, reports “have shown that about half of children who die from the flu each year have no known risk factors for flu complications.” COVID in children contrasts sharply: one study found that 85% of children requiring intensive care for COVID-19 had comorbidities. COVID-19 is less deadly than flu to healthy children.
Motor vehicle crashes in 2018 killed 636 children 12 and younger, and injured 97,000 more. Nearly 2,500 teens ages 13-19 were killed that year, and 285,000 treated in emergency rooms, from car accidents. Don’t we still allow teens to learn to drive? Must not they be exposed to controlled risk? More than 20,000 children suffer traumatic brain injuries each year in playground injuries; another 200,000 are sent to hospital. Why aren’t playgrounds closed?
The CDC purports to be cognizant:
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can affect children and young people directly and indirectly. Beyond getting sick, many young people’s social, emotional, and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage can continue to affect them across their lifespan.
Yet it tells them to stay home because they are disease vectors:
Children, like adults, who have COVID-19 but have no symptoms (“asymptomatic”) can still spread the virus to others…. Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all.
The CDC also tells parents how to talk to their children about COVID-19:
Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
Is it not frightening to tell children to shelter because they might die, from a disease that kills fewer than one in 1 million infected children? Is the CDC’s advice more easily comprehended by children than “social media rumors”?
CDC reports more than 81,000 opioid overdose deaths through May 2020, and that “the latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the pandemic.” This COVID aggravation applies also to suicides, economic losses, soaring national debt, anxiety and depression, domestic abuse, businesses closing daily, etc. We’ve heard much about the alleged racial imbalances in how COVID strikes — but what of the children?
A recent Gallup poll found that Americans’ mental health hit a 20-year low under COVID, the CDC reporting “1 in 4 young people considered suicide this past summer amid life under lockdown.” Many in the mental health community warn that “predictability is a stabilizing force for children and adolescents, but it has been disrupted since the COVID-19 outbreak.” School closings around the world are traumatizing children in ways yet to be measured — all to protect vulnerable elderly people.
During COVID, empty children’s hospitals nationwide admitted adult patients, a medical reflection of these COVID mortality demographics. The children aren’t getting sick, but massive resources are diverted to keep the very old alive at any cost.
There is no Greta Thunberg on the horizon to champion children’s rights. But the damages done presently to children by this lockdown are not speculative, they are evident — not 10 years hence, but this instant.
Why are Americans not having this conversation?
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.