Ron DeSantis, Angel of Death: Parents Can Still Send Kids to School After Exposure to COVID-19

More than 18 months into the pandemic, you’ve probably asked yourself why we’re still dealing with COVID-19 and why life still isn’t back to normal. And the answer, of course, is because people in large swaths of the country refuse to wear masks and get vaccinated; conservative media tells people to ingest horse dewormer instead of following the advice of health professionals; and Republican officials would rather score political points with the “personal freedoms” crowd than actually prevent their constituents from contracting the virus and dying. Like, for example, Ron DeSantis.

Despite his state recording its highest seven-day death average since the pandemic began, the Florida governor continues to introduce vaccine mandates. He has faced off against school boards in court due to his mask-mandate ban, also withholding pay from those who’ve had the audacity to try and protect their communities. He’s mocked public health officials, too, claimed Joe Biden’s attempt to stop the spread of the virus is unconstitutional, and, for his most recent trick, is now allowing kids who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 to go back to school and infect who knows how many people.

Yes, that’s right: On Wednesday, DeSantis announced that the state will allow children who have been exposed to the virus to return to school without quarantining if they are not showing symptoms. “If somebody is symptomatic, of course they stay home. If there’s a close contact, but somebody has not developed any symptoms—you monitor them, you notify the parent,” DeSantis said. “The parent always has the right to have their kids stay home if they think that’s in the best interest of the student and the family, 100%. We would not want to intrude on that. But if a parent has a healthy child, that child has a right to be in school.” DeSantis’s new rule, of course, suggests that a year and half later, he still has no idea how the coronavirus works, or, more likely, he doesn’t care. The decision has unsurprisingly been criticized by school officials, who understand that you can still spread the virus without exhibiting symptoms. “This rule is likely to promote the spread of COVID-19 by preventing schools from implementing the commonsense masking and quarantine policies recommended by the vast majority of health care professionals, including those here in Alachua County,” Alachua County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon said in a statement. “The state is, in fact, doubling down on policies that may ultimately put students, staff, and the entire community at greater risk.” Per CNN:

Regarding the quarantining of students exposed, recent research has found that regular COVID-19 testing of all students and staff in schools can catch positive cases that symptom-based testing may miss. As many as 9 in 10 cases among students and 7 in 10 cases among staff may be missed by conventional reporting mechanisms, according to research published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network Open.

For the study, students and staff in three schools in Omaha, Nebraska, participated in a weekly PCR-testing program between November 9 and December 11 last year. Over the study period, nearly 2,900 self-collected saliva samples from 458 staff and 315 students with no symptoms were tested. Among those, 22 students and 24 staff members tested positive, a higher rate than those identified through symptom-based testing strategies, the researchers noted. The case rate was 7% among students and 5.3% among staff in the weekly testing program, compared to 1.2% among students and 2.1% among staff using conventional reporting mechanisms. Cases detected even exceeded the infection rates reported at the county level.

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