Doing What's Best for Our Children During COVID-19
July 20, 2020
The initial lockdown in our country in March 2020 was predicated on a 3% fatality rate which would have overwhelmed the hospital system nationwide. Drastic measures were implemented to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19 so that hospitals would have fewer patients at a given time. Computer models showed that eventually COVID would infect the entire population no matter what measures were taken but by slowing down the spread, it would allow all people to be treated.
The current safety protocols are still based on the anticipated 3% fatality rate and have not been adjusted to the new 0.05% fatality rate. At the 0.05% fatality rate, children are at greater risk of injury and or death by abuse, neglect, fires, car accidents and drowning compared to COVID-19.The mandates and proliferation of these so called “safety protocols” of mask wearing, social distancing and health profiling, silently punish and compromise our children’s physical, emotional, and mental health.
The wearing of cloth masks without adherence to strict mask wearing protocols results in increased susceptibility to pathogens, including: fungi, yeast, bacteria, and viruses. When masks are worn in this manner, unwashed and contaminated, they create a breeding ground for pathogens to grow, thrive and wreak havoc on health. This daily habit thought of by many to keep them healthy is actually compromising their immune system.
Medical doctors and other medical professionals must take mask wearing and usage classes to prevent contamination. To compare a surgeon’s wearing of a mask during surgery to prevent the spread of bacteria to an average person wearing the same dollar store cloth mask for days or weeks is not a reasonable similarity.
Daily mask wearing causes two kinds of hypoxia, a reduction of oxygen intake and a histotoxic hypoxia or cellular tissue poisoning, from the toxic inhalation of polypropylene in the mask. The first resulting hypoxia causes a significant reduction in oxygen intake, below OSHA safety standards, and suppresses the immune system. A drop in oxygen levels (hypoxia), is associated with an impairment in immunity. Studies have shown that hypoxia can inhibit the type of main immune cells used to fight viral infections called the CD4+ T-lymphocyte.
(1. Shehade H et al. Cutting edge: Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 negatively regulates Th1 function. J Immunol 2015;195:1372-1376. 2. Westendorf AM et al. Hypoxia enhances immunosuppression by inhibiting CD4+ effector T cell function and promoting Treg activity. Cell Physiol Biochem 2017;41:1271-84. 3. Sceneay J et al. Hypoxia-driven immunosuppression contributes to the premetastatic niche. Oncoimmunology 2013;2:1 e22355.)
When blood oxygen levels fall below certain levels, shortness of breath, headache, anxiety, confusion, and restlessness may occur. More severe physiological responses are more likely to occur when wearing a face mask while performing strenuous activity. This mask induced hypoxemia puts students and teachers at risk for a multitude of adverse physiological and immune responses.
When wearing a face mask the lungs are unable to expel carbon dioxide.The re-breathing of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduces the immune response and adversely affects epithelial function in the lungs and blood vessels, and lowers the amount of oxygen exchange across the alveolar membranes. Elevated carbon dioxide levels in blood and tissues negatively affects immune system function, can have a negative impact with a disease like COVID-19 and puts the host at risk for poor clinical outcomes.
On April 21, 2020, The American Medical Association published a position paper on masks. This paper in JAMA stated that there is no evidence to suggest that face masks worn by healthy individuals are effective in preventing them from becoming ill and therefore should not be worn by healthy individuals to protect themselves from acquiring a respiratory infection. The AMA continues to advocate for healthcare workers and caretakers to wear masks when working in close proximity with patients with respiratory infections.
In an article published May 14, 2020 in Technocracy News & Trends, Russell Blaylock M.D., a prominent neurosurgeon states: “by wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.” Face masks restrict the elimination of the virus, recirculating the virus into the nasal and sinus cavities and through the upper respiratory passages.
The results of the first randomized clinical trial to study the efficacy of cloth masks were published in 2015 in the journal BMJ Open. The study found respiratory infection was much higher among healthcare workers wearing cloth masks, with the penetration of cloth masks by particles at almost 97% compared to medical masks with 44%. The authors speculate that the cloth masks’ moisture retention, their reuse and poor filtration may explain the increased risk of infection. This scientific study was performed prior to the politicization of COVID-19.
Based on tests performed in independent laboratories by OSHA equipment measuring the oxygen intake with and without wearing the standard mask worn in hospitals and by many at this time, the levels of oxygen wearing a mask were calibrated at 17.4%, whereas the oxygen levels of a person not wearing a mask are between 20-21%. OSHA requires at least 19.5% oxygen levels to render environmental safety. 17.4% oxygen levels are deemed “dangerous” by OSHA.
In May 2020, two 14 year old boys suddenly collapsed while running laps during physical education class in two different school in China; one boy was wearing a cloth face mask and the other boy was wearing a N95 respirator. In response to these tragedies, these schools have discontinued physical education exams. The body thrives in a well oxygenated environment, when the body is deprived of the oxygen required to maintain its level of activity, a cardiac event, unconsciousness or death are likely.
The wearing of face masks (or observing others wearing face masks jogging or bicycle riding outdoors, in parking lots, and inside supermarkets and other stores) also causes another immunosuppressive effect by creating fear and anxiety. Fear, worry and anxiety are powerful immune suppressing emotions. When the body is in fear mode, stress hormones are released which begins a cascade of physiological responses.
This is a link to a section of a 2007 book titled, Cytokines: Stress and Immunity– Second Edition 2007. You can read Chapter 2 titled Worried to Death? Worry, and Immune Dysregulation in Health and HIV. Interestingly, HIV is a viral infection as is SARS-C0V-2 (COVID-19).
Anxiety is a common response to the uncertainty, feelings of isolation and disrupted daily routines caused by the media attention to the illness and efforts to stop its spread. Teresa Christian, a clinical psychologist states that worry and concern are normal responses to an abnormal situation. Some have described this long term social isolation as devastating, comparing it to experiencing grief and loss. These health beliefs and social restrictions have created a deep uncertainty and unknown future.
Chronic fear has the potential to impact physical, emotional, and mental health. The possible effects of chronic fear on physical health include impacting all body systems: immune system, endocrine system, autonomic nervous system and sleep/wake cycle. Symptoms resulting from chronic fear may include: headaches turning into migraines, muscle aches turning into fibromyalgia, body aches turning into chronic pain, and difficulty breathing turning into asthma. Chronic fear may effect emotional health causing these behaviors: Dissociation from self, Unable to have loving feelings, Learned helplessness, Phobic anxiety, Mood swings and Obsessive-compulsive thoughts.
Chronic fear may also affect the ability to learn. In order to learn the parasympathetic system and a feeling of safety must be present. In fight or flight mode, when a person feels like he is being threatened and or attacked the blood leaves the brain and travels to the extremities in order to help his survival. Paying attention in class would be hard stretched for a student feeling remotely threatened and virtually impossible for a student perceiving great fear, anxiety and or danger.
At the 2017 Neuroscience Education Institute (NEI) Congress, Mary D. Moller, PhD, DNP, ARNP, PMHCNS-BC, CPRP, FAAN, associate professor, Pacific Lutheran University School of Nursing, and director of Psychiatric Services, Northwest Center for Integrated Health discussed when the brain is hyper aroused, storage may be incomplete and new information will be stored in nonverbal memory. This distorts the storage of sensory input and the retrieval of information will be affected.
The emotional, social and psychological effects of this new isolation culture have created silent dangers that are devastating to our children. Children have been one of the hardest hit populations in terms of a complete destruction to their day to day normal life. In a recent poll 7 out of 10 children expressed feeling severely isolated and depressed. Overnight, children have been silently punished by a sudden disruption from attending school, engaging in sporting, after school activities and all other activities kids should be participating in. The very fabric that provides children with the sense of normalcy, stability and consistency has been removed.
Social distancing and social isolation have deleterious effects as well. Humans are social beings and thrive on day to day social interactions, being part of a community and fulfilling work to bring meaning to their lives. When you remove those factors and separate people from physical interaction with each other and from doing what they love, you’re creating irreparable trauma. Prisoners are punished by time spent in isolation. If distance learning was a reasonable alternative to classroom learning, it would have been more prevalent prior to the outbreak.
Research has shown that parents who provide structure, predictability and praise to their children, raise strong, independent and confident children. Emotional stability and a nurturing environment are key factors in raising happy and grounded children. The new learning environment either distance learning, hybrid model or in person school with the implementation of extreme “safety” protocols has created uncertainty and chaos. This new model of education breeds, fear, unpredictability and an environment in opposition to learning.
Children are being taught to maintain an unreasonable distance from each other out of fear of catching a deadly virus.
For an elementary school student, virtual school can be very stressful. The child is dependent on parents’ work schedules, time availability, patience levels, coping skills and teaching ability. The child’s connection with school is strongly dependent on their primary teacher and the teachers personality and character. A child may spend 30 min to a few hours weekly connecting with their teacher and classmates. Our children are at great risk for loneliness, boredom and depression as their peer to peer interaction is minimal at best. A child’s level of physical activity has plummeted greatly as well as they have become prisoners in their own homes, deprived of in person physical education and recess activities.
Boys in particular socialize via in person activities like recess, basketball and after school clubs. The deprivation of sensory-motor activities, like playing on the monkey bars, swinging and playing in the sandbox, for both boys and girls will hamper their gross and fine motor development. How will the fine muscles in their small hands develop without opportunities and practice to do so? How will children learn to interact and play with each other if not given the chance?
Incidences of child abuse and neglect increase significantly during times of societal distress, such as recessions and public health crises. The social restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many stressors for parents, including loss of income due to furlough, reduced hours or termination. The constant influx of negative news surrounding COVID-19 puts parents at risk for mental and physical fatigue. The added responsibilities parents are taking on with children stuck at home can also be quite stressful. Many families are finding other childcare alternatives to summer camp and daycare, like bringing their children to work with them, or parents alternating childcare based on their work schedules. Homeschooling responsibilities is another stressor for parents now.
Physical and emotional abuse are more prevalent and underreported, as the built in societal support system provided by schools, camps, neighbors and friends are no longer in place and children are unable to communicate with and confide in a trusted adult. Unemployment, overcrowding at home, lack of support systems, children verbalizing hunger, boredom, and a final trigger of child defiance or persistent crying can influence parents to react with a physical punishment that leads to abuse and injuries of various severities. According to Thomas Truman, MD, pediatric internist and Emmanuel Peña, DO, child abuse pediatrician, (& Medical Director of the Children’s Home Society Child Protection Team) child protection teams most commonly observe burns and bone fractures amongst pediatric injuries when suspecting abuse or neglect.
The media understands the greater the threat the more viewers will return for news updates. When fatalities were the highest in April 2020, constant fatality updates were given. When fatality numbers fell, the media started reporting cases instead of mentioning the fatalities. Knowing that shutdowns are now based on cases not fatalities, testing labs are skewing the numbers to exaggerate the number of cases. For example, a person that tests positive ten times is counted as ten cases, but a person that tests negative is only counted once.
This graph represents the fatalities due to COVID-19 in the United States. Does it make sense to shut down the school systems with a total of 302 deaths nationwide last week?
The CDC sent a letter to doctors instructing them to document COVID-19 as the cause of death for patients with COVID-19 like symptoms even when the patient never had a positive test result. When the public learned that pneumonia, upper respiratory infections and influenza could be classified as COVID-19, the CDC was pressured to provide a second diagnostic code, U07.2, for clinical or epidemiological diagnosis of COVID-19 where a laboratory confirmation is inconclusive or not available. Because laboratory test results are not typically reported on death certificates in the United States, NCHS did not implement U07.2 for mortality statistics. To date no COVID-19 test is accurate enough to be approved by the FDA.
Countries, including: Australia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway where schools have reopened with minimal social distancing and no masks have not experienced a higher fatality rate due to the current virus.
It’s imperative for us as conscious, loving parents to get our children back into schools. It’s imperative for our children’s overall health to be in a warm and loving environment in which they can grow and thrive. Our children need us now more than ever…to be their parents and do what’s best for them.
Best for schools to implement reasonable and practical school guidelines to foster the overall health of our students and teachers. It is time for all children to know they are safe and feel they are safe.
Students should be encouraged to wash hands throughout the day and to abide by common health practices. As always, keep your child home if he has a fever, rash, has vomited and or has not felt well in the last 24 hours.
Let’s move forward together as a community and teach our children to embrace life and the light of the Torah. May you all have the courage to find the truth in your heart, have faith in God to support your children in getting a Jewish education and the vision of Klal Yisroel.
Robyn Lev, MS, OT/L
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This self-care page is meant to inform, and is for educational purposes only. In no way is it intended to evaluate, diagnose or to treat any condition or disease, nor to replace consultation with a qualified health professional. It is strongly recommended that no-one seek to reduce or to discontinue any medication they may be on without prior discussion with their physician.