Los Angeles County Department of Public Health just reinstated a full indoor mask mandate for everyone – no exemptions – effective Saturday. And, County Public Health Official Dr. Barbara Ferrer appears to be planning to close down/lockdown Los Angeles County schools again.
This latest LA County Department of Public Health Update shows the new guidance for schools:
Los Angeles physician Dr. Houman David Hemmati spoke with the Globe Wednesday about these seemingly arbitrary orders and the impact to children and families.
“This is a battle of fact versus misguided agenda,” Dr. Hemmati said. He and his wife, who is also a physician, are parents of a school aged child. Dr. Hemmati said his wife is fed up and wants all of these politicians and public health officials out – from the Governor down to Dr. Ferrer. And she’s not alone.
Dr. Hemmati sent Dr. Ferrer an email expressing his concerns, as well as telling Dr. Ferrer that he led the group of several hundred LA County healthcare professionals calling for schools to reopen full time.
In part, Dr. Hemmati’s open letter read:
As licensed healthcare professionals working in Los Angeles County, we recognize recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and are in full agreement with the large group of UCSF health professionals in San Francisco who recently called for full reopening of schools.
Children are being harmed psychologically by school closures. CDC reported that compared to 2019, the proportion of pediatric emergency visits due to mental health issues in 2020 increased by 24% among children ages 5 to 11 and by 31% for children ages 12 to 17.
Prolonged school closure is contributing to social isolation among children and adolescents. It is taking a heavy toll on their mental health and well-being. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may be associated with increased rates of suicidal ideation among youth, ages 11-21.
Numerous national and international studies have demonstrated that schools are not major sources of COVID-19 spread. In fact, infections in schools largely reflect existing community prevalence. Because case rates in schools match community transmission rates, reopening schools has not been shown to put teachers at additional risk.
Dr. Hemmati’s concerns remain much the same, only now he says the new guidance on schools says so much as a single “case” of COVID can close the entire school and force everyone into quarantine.
“We are forcing asymptomatic people to get tested. If we close the schools, those kids will be out in the community, rather than in school,” Dr. Hemmati said. “There is significant data in the United States indicating COVID prevalence is no higher among high school students and teachers who returned to campus compared with community matched prevalence rates. Young children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 transmission. In addition, children are generally not at risk of severe health consequences from COVID-19.”
“Parents cannot plan for this,” he added.
Dr. Hemmati said when looking at the data throughout the country, “Los Angeles County has minuscule cases compared to Florida or other states. We have 1/50th the ‘cases’,” he said. “For us to take such draconian measures is suspect.”
Here are the latest LA County Public Health Department school guidelines:
❑ Required: After identifying 1 confirmed COVID-19 case (student or employee), the School Compliance Officer instructs the case to follow Home Isolation Instructions for COVID-19 (ph.lacounty.gov/ covidisolation). NOTE: a confirmed COVID-19 case is an individual who has a positive COVID-19 test.
❑ Required: School Compliance Officer provides a copy of the Public Health Emergency Isolation Order and informs the case that DPH will contact the case directly through the DPH Case and Contact InvestigationProgram to collect additional information and issue the Health Officer Order for Case Isolation.
Dr. Hemmati and Dr. Barbara Ferrer had an email exchange about this new guidance. This is Dr. Hematti’s message to Barbara Ferrer:
Notably, Dr. Ferrer responds, touting that her “actions” are usually followed by the state and CDC. “I do what I want and the CDC and the State follow me,” Dr. Hemmati said of Ferrer’s message:
Dr. Ferrer has been widely criticized for ignoring actual science and data, and taking extreme measures – seemingly arbitrarily. With only 1/50th of the new “cases” of other states, her latest “guidelines” would appear to be Dr. Ferrer is enjoying her unchecked authority.
However, if Gov. Gavin Newsom would give up his emergency powers, it would also serve to remove Dr. Ferrer’s.
Here are the 7-Day Moving Averages for Los Angeles County:
Here are the 7-Day Moving Averages for Palm Beach County, Florida:
Dr. Hemmati’s and the hundreds of medical professionals’ open letter does a far better job of explaining the science, data and actual risk:
“Opening schools may lead to some degree of spread. However, case increases would be modest based on the data and unlikely to lead to large amounts of critical illness. The evidence shows these effects will be more than counterbalanced by the benefits to children, parents, and teachers of getting schools reopened.”
The letter was signed by hundreds of actual medical professionals. This is just a sample:
As for the mandatory mask mandate, this Biomedical engineering/cardiovascular biomechanics dude has it right:
“The new COVID variant is SUPER airborne and SUPER infectious so we are asking everyone to start wearing that porous, loose-fitting cotton mask they got at the convenience store for 99 cents and haven’t washed in 5 months” pic.twitter.com/CBVTWAuuiF
— Eric (@The_OtherET) July 28, 2021
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