Pandemic Post-mortem: Education

Disseminator of Misinformation” : Someone who disagrees and therefore should not be listened to.

Many people have expressed the hope that we will be wiser when the next pandemic hits. Well, important knowledge has emerged regarding the effects of pandemic policies on children.

Below, I am excerpting from a recent article in order to facilitate a quicker read. The excerpts are direct quotes.

student in her room

“While Dr. Noble’s early concerns were dismissed, today there is no shortage of articles and studies documenting the harm caused by COVID-19 school policies over the past two and a half years. The number of ER visits in 2021 by adolescent girls for suspected suicide attempts was 51% higher than during the same period in early 2019. Skyrocketing violence statistics involving young men, including a spate of shootings, may also be traceable to mental illnesses exacerbated by the enforced isolation of COVID-19.”

“One survey found that the rate of chronically absent students nationwide is now 22%, 2.7 times what it was before school closures. In New York City, 4 out of 10 students are now chronically absent; in Los Angeles nearly half of all students are chronically absent. These statistics indicate an instructional system that in many cases has simply ceased to function.” (My comment: maybe now would be a good time to look at what was wrong with it in the first place.)

“Overall, the youngest children were most profoundly impacted by lockdowns and school disruptions, and some of them now lack basic life skills.”

“As the severity of these repercussions comes to light, some outlets—notably those that most aggressively advocated for lockdowns and masking—have been eager to suggest that we are now aware of the overwhelmingly negative consequences of these policies thanks to “new research” that has only just become available to fair-minded people, who can therefore be forgiven for having adopted the course they did. But to many doctors and scientists, the damage to kids caused by COVID-19 panic was neither inevitable nor surprising. Rather, it was the result of the public health establishment’s conscious choice to eschew rational cost-benefit analysis in favor of pet cultural theories and political gamesmanship. For those who applied the scientific method to the available evidence, the consequences were already clear just a few weeks into the pandemic. “It was not at all true that people in healthcare and public health were unaware of what was going on with children,” Dr. Noble told me. “They were not ignorant.””

“What happened to the United States’ kids was not the result of an innocent mistake. It was the product of a concerted campaign of censorship and demonization of dissenting voices in support of premises that turned out to be wildly harmful to children. Scientists, doctors, and parents who urged schools to reopen based on available evidence were systematically ignored and silenced by politicians, public health bureaucrats, and legions of dedicated online COVID-19 activists, while the most vulnerable children in U.S. society suffered the consequences. Only by telling the story of how that betrayal happened is it possible to start understanding the why.”

“When Sweden kept schools open for children up to age 16 without masks in the spring of 2020, for example, not a single child died, and teachers were not at elevated risk for severe COVID-19.”

“Some commentators and institutions claimed that school-reopening efforts were a product of far-right Trumpism, scummy ulterior motives, and racism. “The push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism, and misogyny,” the Chicago Teachers Union’s Twitter account tweeted in December 2020.”

“Dr. Duriseti told me that since the start of the pandemic, even with 35% of his overall patient volume being pediatrics, he had seen only one patient under 18 with the bilateral patchy infiltrates that are characteristic of severe COVID-19. On the other hand, there was clear indication of a youth mental health crisis. “I saw a spike in psychiatric visits for sure,” he said. “But what I really saw that was most concerning was a spike in more serious suicide attempts.” For Dr. Duriseti, it was “brutally obvious” that school closures were a catastrophic error. “I really bristle at the notion that this was not knowable, just by simple inferencing, and by this thing we call history,” he said. “People have researched these things before.””

“In the first week of August 2020, Dr. Shveta Raju, an internal medicine primary care physician, wondered why her children’s school district in Georgia was closed when the neighboring district had reopened. Why, she asked, was a fraternity house open in the same neighborhood where a kindergarten was closed? Although she proactively advocated for in-person school reopening in her community, Dr. Raju doesn’t think enough physicians did, due in part to institutional policies. Almost 70% of U.S. doctors work for hospitals or corporations as opposed to independently or in small practices—a tremendous shift from just 20 years ago. “Preserving the independence of physicians is really critical,” she told me. “Part of it is that physicians should be able to maintain their voice regardless of where they practice.”

“Laws or protections, Dr. Raju said, should be put in place to prevent employers from silencing them. Instead, the trend is moving in the opposite direction. The California state legislature is now considering a bill that would threaten doctors with disciplinary action if they share anything the medical board deems “misinformation.” This approach to alternative perspectives is exactly what needlessly left millions of American children out of school. It is not “misinformation,” but an official culture of censorship and credentialism that produced immense suffering.”

“I think people outside of science and academia need to realize how much physicians and scientists have been silenced this pandemic for standing up against things like school closures,” she said.

“There was “a small cartel of experts who controlled the policy, who controlled the messaging, who controlled even who was allowed to participate in this debate or discussion,” Dr. Bhattacharya said. “We can never let that happen again.””

“All of these supposed mitigation measures are ultimately justified through the idea that schools were fundamentally dangerous in 2020, when in reality they remained among the safest places for children and teachers to be throughout the pandemic.”

“The media’s recent discovery of the self-evident harms done to kids, is, for Dr. Duriseti, “the height of gaslighting.” It’s not enough just to document these harms, he said. “Apologies are in order. Accountability is in order.” What this accountability might look like is still an open question.”

Most of us have thought of California as as cool place. That reputation ends here. That a doctor can lose her license for disagreeing with public health policy is a big step in an incredibly wrong direction. (Maybe not surprising in one of the 27 American states that still has the death penalty.)

The following excerpts are from here.

“Pan is a pediatrician who also has backed controversial legislation to expand the reach of vaccinations, most recently by proposing to end a personal belief exemption in school-based COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Low also has promoted legislation that last fall helped draw more than 1,000 people to the state Capitol in Sacramento to oppose vaccine mandates.”

“Dr. Nick Sawyer, an emergency room doctor with the advocacy group No License for Disinformation, said Low’s bill is aimed at “a very small number of very well-coordinated, well-funded and very, very active minority of physicians who are spreading the type of misinformation that is not nuanced at all.”” (My  comment: this is total bullshit.)

“Among other things, in order to impose discipline, Low’s bill would require the medical board to determine that a doctor’s disinformation prompted a patient to decline COVID-19 prevention or treatment that was not justified by the patient’s medical history or condition.”

“Pan said the board would likely use a peer review process to establish a standard of care. If the board alleges a violation, medical experts would then review whether the doctor has violated that standard.”

“The California Medical Association hasn’t taken a position on Low’s bill. But the association’s president, Dr. Robert E. Wailes, said in a statement that misinformation has prolonged the pandemic, “making the work of our frontline health care workers more difficult and dangerous while harming community health.””

“The legislation differs from efforts in some other states like Florida and Tennessee, where Republican lawmakers have resisted doctor discipline proposals.”

—James Sparks

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