New York public schools should begin to prepare for opening this fall, but Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that it’s too early to know if this will happen.
In early June, the state will release guidelines for schools that will detail what they need to do to reopen, and schools will need to submit plans to the state for consideration, he said.
“The state will approve these plans in July, and everyone is preparing to open in September,” Cuomo said at a briefing. “But we don’t want to make this decision until we have more facts.”
Health officials said it is still unclear to what extent the coronavirus infects children, most of which have no symptoms, and what role young people play as potential spreaders of the virus.
The opening of schools is complicated by the discovery of a possible new complication of Covid-19 in children, a multisystemic inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C, which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be caused by coronavirus,
According to Cuomo, further MIS-C studies are needed before a decision can be made on summer camps and schools in the fall.
“Until we get an answer about this pediatric syndrome as a parent, until I find out how widespread it is, I would not send my children to a day camp,” he said. “And I, if I did not send my children to the day camp, I would not ask anyone to send their children to the day camp.”
The discovery last month of a syndrome that causes inflammation in various organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain, questioned the initial studies at the beginning of the outbreak, which showed that the virus greatly spared the children. The syndrome remains rare, and most young Covid-19 patients report only mild symptoms, according to the CDC. However, the virus can cause serious illness in children with at least three deaths from MIS-C in New York.
According to Cuomo, last week 7 countries and 17 states, as well as Washington, DC, reported cases of the syndrome. Since then, the number of countries reporting the syndrome has nearly doubled to 13, and the number of states is currently 25 and the District of Columbia, Cuomo said. He added that New York State is investigating 157 cases of the syndrome. According to Cuomo, at least three children died from this disease between the ages of 5 and 18.
“This inflammatory syndrome is in some ways worse than Covid’s respiratory illness because it causes heart inflammation,” Cuomo said. “We know that it exists. We don’t know how widespread it is. ”
According to Dr. Amina Ahmed, a specialist in infectious diseases in children at Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina, although the syndrome appears to be rare, there have not been enough clinical studies to determine its prevalence. She added that there was one confirmed case of MIS-C in North Carolina.
“If we do not systematically study these children, that is, conduct PCR testing, repeat it if we are suspicious, and it returns negative, and then conduct serological tests, we don’t really recognize,” she told CNBC. “But enough cases have already been described when we definitely suspect that this is due to Covid.”
Symptoms are similar to Kawasaki disease, which occurs year-round, Ahmed said, adding that it is difficult to identify patients with MIS-C, unlike Kawasaki disease, until they begin to develop some of the more serious symptoms. She added that at the moment there is no explanation why some children develop the syndrome, while others do not.
“Of course, there are no concomitant diseases,” she said. “The vast majority of these children were completely healthy.”