Schools reopening will not cause spike in COVID-19 cases, Richmond doctors say


RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Several doctors weighed in at a Richmond school board meeting, arguing that reopening will not result in a spike in coronavirus cases.

Dr. Danny Avula, the Director for Richmond and Henrico health districts, gave a virtual presentation suggesting schools are not a significant source of community transmission.

According to his data, children ages 0-9 make up 4.3 percent of coronavirus cases in Richmond while children ages 10-19 make up 8.3 percent.

Further, Avula said only five children, less than one percent have been hospitalized from the virus in Richmond and no deaths have been reported.

Emily Godbout with the Children’s Hospital of Virginia said that while kids do contract the virus, they are much less likely to contract it compared to adults.

“The rate of infection appears to increase with age. We see more cases in older kids than younger kids,” Godbout said. “If we look across the entire United States, kids under 18 make up 2 percent of COVID cases.”

She said research suggests most kids with COVID-19 have no or few symptoms and severe disease and death are rare.

According to Dr. Romesh Wijeesooriya with the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the focus needs to be on adult to adult transmission within schools.

Dr. Avula offered recommendations on how to mitigate the risk. He said symptom screening, contact tracing, hand washing, 3 foot social distancing, and masks will be the keys in lowering transmission. He also said cleaning high tough areas is important, but deep cleaning is not necessary.

“This idea of deep cleaning really isn’t something we need to continue,” Avula said. “It doesn’t need to be a massive event where we shut down schools whenever there is a case.”

The Richmond school board has not made a decision on reopening yet. The board is leaning toward a staggered reopening plan.

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