Close BC Schools to slow the spread of COVID-19

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Now is the time for the BC government to learn from other communities facing the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many areas have moved from a strategy of containment (which wasn't working) to a strategy of mitigation, which largely involves Social Distancing.  We need to institute this same strategy in BC if we want to get ahead of what is coming our way.  We need to close our schools now... not just while the kids are already on Spring Break, but beyond that. We need our leaders to step up and make these tough decisions for the good of the people they serve. By doing this now, we will send a clear message to the public that this is not business as usual. We should not be acting like we are on Spring Break and taking our kids all over the place to entertain them. We should not be taking them to pools, ice rinks, indoor play places, trampoline parks, etc. We should be distancing ourselves socially from others to slow the spread of this virus through our communities.

The following are excerpts from an article titled Does closing schools slow the spread of coronavirus? Past outbreaks provide clues

Proactive school closures—closing schools before there’s a case there—have been shown to be one of the most powerful nonpharmaceutical interventions that we can deploy. Proactive school closures work like reactive school closures not just because they get the children, the little vectors, removed from circulation. It’s not just about keeping the kids safe. It’s keeping the whole community safe. When you close the schools, you reduce the mixing of the adults—parents dropping off at the school, the teachers being present. When you close the schools, you effectively require the parents to stay home.

There was a wonderful paper published that analyzed data regarding the Spanish flu in 1918, examining proactive versus reactive school closures. When did [regional] authorities close the schools relative to when the epidemic was spiking? What they found was that proactive school closing saved substantial numbers of lives. St. Louis closed the schools about a day in advance of the epidemic spiking, for 143 days. Pittsburgh closed 7 days after the peak and only for 53 days. And the death rate for the epidemic in St. Louis was roughly one-third as high as in Pittsburgh. These things work.

The following are excerpts from an article titled Flattening the Curve for COVID-19: What Does It Mean and How Can You Help?

Cruises and flights canceled. Colleges and universities sending students home to watch lectures online. Public schools closing. Offices asking people to telecommute. Concerts, parades, festivals and sporting events postponed.

Is all of this really necessary for the coronavirus? Are public health officials in areas that have already shut down schools overreacting to the threat posed by the virus that causes the disease COVID-19?

"It’s absolutely necessary, because it’s worked in the past," says medical historian Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., a University of Michigan expert who has studied the effects of similar responses to past epidemics.

“An outbreak anywhere can go everywhere,” he says. And right now, “We all need to pitch in to try to prevent cases both within ourselves and in our communities.”

It’s called “flattening the curve,” a term that public health officials use all the time but that many North Americans just heard for the first time this week.

Canceling, postponing or moving online for our work, education and recreation may be inconvenient, annoying and disappointing.

But hospitals need to have enough room, supplies and staff to care for those who need hospital-level care -- whether it’s for coronavirus, a heart attack, car crash, broken bone or birth. That’s why it’s important to listen to public health authorities and leaders if and when they say it’s time to change how we live our lives temporarily.

“Coronavirus is a socially transmitted disease, and we all have a social contract to stop it,” says Markel. “What binds us is a microbe – but it also has the power to separate us. We’re a very small community, whether we acknowledge it or not, and this proves it. The time to act like a community is now.”

The following are excerpts from an article titled PSA Regarding COVID-19: A Warning

"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," said the WHO director.

"Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks that it won’t happen to us is making a deadly mistake," warned the WHO.

Due to the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, the danger is not just the mortality rate for the vulnerable, but the possibility of overwhelming the health infrastructure, which in turn causes unnecessary fatalities.
As it stands, it wouldn't take much to overwhelm hospitals, hence why it's important to start taking preventative measures now - especially because hospitals are already burdened with a heavy flu season.. For example, if only 10 out of every 1000 people required a bed, we'd already be coming up short, as in Canada there are only 2.58 beds for every 1000 people. Why is this important? In South Korea, 4 in 22 deaths happened while waiting to be hospitalized, and that's from South Korea, who is #2 in the world bedcount-wise with 12.27 beds per 1000 people. And of course many beds will already be occupied for regular patients. Toronto Star soberly warns hospitals can’t cope if coronavirus outbreak worsens in Canada: March 6th.

Further helpful information can be found in an article titled Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day