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Letters to the Editor: Opening schools is reckless without a plan to handle a surge in Kawasaki-like disease cases

Tony Thurmond
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, seen in 2019, said that California schools won’t reopen until it can be done safely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

To the editor: California schools cannot reopen until the state addresses several important concerns. (“Most California school districts plan to open in the fall. Here’s how it would work,” May 20)

First, what is the true incidence of multi-system inflammatory syndrome — similar to Kawasaki disease — in children that is probably associated with COVID-19? If one in 10,000 children exposed to the coronavirus end up with this syndrome, and there are 73 million children in the United States, that means we will need at least 7,300 intensive care unit beds available for them.

There are only 350 pediatric ICUs (PICUs) in the U.S., and half of them have fewer than eight beds. In an average year, 4,800 kids get Kawasaki disease and require PICU treatment. Respiratory syncytial virus also fills our PICUs in the fall.

What if there is an overlap? Do we have a plan to accommodate all critically ill children? Can we reverse-engineer adult ICU teams so that they can treat children? Can we develop protocols so that adult intensivists can be virtually supervised by our limited number of pediatric ICU physicians? What is our plan if our pediatric units are full?

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We need an emergency plan to assure PICU bed availability or a backup plan with adult ICU specialists. Until plans are in place, prudence demands that we continue flattening the curve by not opening our schools.

Howard C. Mandel, M.D., Los Angeles

The writer is president of the Los Angeles City Health Commission.

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To the editor: The superintendents of the six largest school districts in California wrote to lawmakers stating that they cannot risk the health and safety of students and staff by returning to the classroom prematurely without adequate testing and a clear understanding of the impacts of coronavirus on young people.

Given that multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children has been linked to COVID-19, I am deeply concerned that if schools reopen in the fall, we will see a dramatic increase in the number of children afflicted by coronavirus-related ailments.

Until we have a better understanding of the effects of the coronavirus on young people, we should not endanger our children by sending them to school in the fall.

Rob Demonteverde, Brea

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To the editor: Great news to hear that California schools are working on plans to reopen in the fall. However, we all know that things are not going to be the same.

What shall we call this new form of education? May I suggest “spatial ed?”

Joe Kevany, Mount Washington


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