Students everywhere are returning to school this month, many for the first time since the Coronavirus Pandemic, marking a gap of 17 months or more since their last in person instruction.
While this is an exciting time for students, teachers, and their families, the return to in person instruction is far riskier for some than others. Students, teachers, and members of their households with heart disease are at an increased risk for a severe COVID-19 infection.
Children, especially older children, with heart disease are more vulnerable to serious cases of COVID-19, as shown by the higher hospitalization rates of children with heart disease when compared to other children. However, children are still not at as high of a risk as adults of developing severe COVID-19. Adults with heart disease are especially susceptible to Coronavirus, with one American College of Cardiology study showing that “people who have underlying cardiovascular disease have a higher mortality rate when it comes to COVID-19 (10.5 percent).” This was supported by the American Journal of Medical Sciences’ study showing “that the COVID-19 mortality rate for people with underlying cardiovascular disease was between 10.5 and nearly 14 percent”.
Because of these underlying risks, re-entering in person school environments, filled with children who make up the majority of unvaccinated Americans, especially in states with minimal COVID restrictions, places those with heart disease who go to school, or cohabitate with someone who does, at an extremely elevated risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19. In Florida for example, according to the CDC “During the week that ended Aug. 13, overall cases in the state fell 1% from the previous week, but cases in 12- to 19-year-olds increased by 16%, and children under 12 increased by 21%”. The increased spread highlights the need to continue mitigation efforts in protection of those with underlying conditions.
One article succinctly explained the situation, saying that “Our findings underscore the need for careful consideration of and preparation for school reopening this fall. The resumption of face-to-face instruction is critical for children’s development, health, and welfare. However, without adequate safeguards, reopening schools could put millions of vulnerable adults at risk for severe COVID-19 illness.” (Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness Among Teachers and Adults Living With School-Aged Children)
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