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School closures led to reductions in COVID-19 cases and deaths: JAMANETWORK

2020-07-29
photo from StartupStockPhotos courtesy of pixabay.com

This editorial published in JAMANETWORK today, July 29, discusses a research article also published today that estimates a roughly 60% reduction in COVID-19 cases and deaths due to school closures in March.

The implications are that re-opening schools will lead to a dramatic increase in cases during an uncontrolled outbreak due to SARS-COV-2. We can’t afford to increase cases, despite the economic and scholastic impact of keeping them closed.

Here are the statistics quoted in the editorial:

Auger et al4 found that school closure was associated with a −62% (95% CI, −71% to −49%) relative change in COVID-19 incidence per week, corresponding to an estimated absolute difference of 423.9 (95% CI, 375.0 to 463.7) cases per 100 000. The authors also reported that school closure was associated with a −58% (95% CI, −68% to −46%) relative change in mortality per week, corresponding to an estimated absolute difference in mortality of 12.6 (95% CI, 11.8 to 13.6) deaths per 100 000. Extrapolating these results to the US population, the authors estimate that school closure may have been associated with 1.37 million fewer cases of COVID-19 over a 26-day period and 40 600 fewer deaths over a 16-day period during the spring of 2020. It is important to emphasize these are estimates.

JAMA. Published online July 29, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.13092

It is not yet time to re-open schools. I suggest that we wait until January, when it will become clear in what direction this country is heading. Either things will be worse or better. They can’t stay the same.

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