Monday, March 8, 2021
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Brookhaven mom changes view of returning to school after her son was sickened with COVID-19

The mom of a Brookhaven child, who spent more than a week in the hospital due to complications from the coronavirus, believes now is not the time to return to in-person learning.

On Wednesday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said teachers do not need to get vaccinated for schools to safely reopen.

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen, and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Alejandro Cortez disagrees. Her 10-year-old son, David, spent 15 days in the ICU after contracting the virus. Cortez said her son’s symptoms were mild at first, but weeks later his health started to deteriorate.

“He went downhill really fast, and as a mother, you feel helpless to see your child like that,” she said.

Cortez acknowledged her son didn’t catch the virus at school, but she said his experience should serve as a lesson.

“Before I would have said yes, let them go back, but after seeing what it can do, it’s not worth it,” Cortez said.

There’s been more than a 12% increase in the number of children who have tested positive in the U.S., according to the latest report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. In Georgia, minors account for 10.6% of positive cases and nearly two percent of all hospitalizations.

“Kids are spreaders of the disease and they see their grandparents and they see their neighbors and aunts and uncles,” said Dr. Kate Williamson, a pediatrician. “They can very easily spread the disease.”

“Step one is to get these tests out,” said Dr. Wilbur Lam, a pediatric hematologist at Emory University. 

Lam is part of a team of doctors who independently reviewed the Ellume at home test kits, for which the federal government recently announced funding. The tests can detect COVID with roughly 95% accuracy within 15 minutes. Lam believes they could be key to getting kids back into the classroom safely.

“Because there will always be at risk populations, elderly, people with underlying conditions, these tests need to exist,” he said. “Testing will always be important, especially for policy.”

The test kits are expected to be in drugstores by the end of the month.

As for David, he is doing better. Officers from the Brookhaven Police Department welcomed the boy home when he was released from the hospital.

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