Should Our Kids Go Back to School? An Apolitical Review of COVID-19 Data.

*** DRAFT ***
Throughout the United States public school districts, colleges, and universities have decided not to hold “in-person” classes this fall. In their stead, they’ve chosen to offer “virtual learning”.

The justification: COVID-19 is too dangerous for students and staff to be together under the same roof.

The question: Do the “science” and “data” justify a decision to massively disrupt the country’s educational system and cause short-term and long-term harm to students?

The following charts and tables are based upon a CDC Dataset that tracks U.S. COVID-19 Deaths by Age Group and State. The CDC updates this data weekly. Currently, the time period covered by the CDC Dataset is: February 1, 2020 through July 25, 2020 (“Time Period”).

The CDC Dataset defines eleven separate Age Groups ranging in age from less than one year to 85 and over. As part of this review, Table 1 categorizes each Age Group into one of three sub-groups.

Sub-GroupAge Group
School Aged, Under 25<1, 1-4, 5-14, and 15-24
Working Age25-34, 35-44, 45-54, and 55-64
65 or Older, Over 6565-74, 75-84, and 85+
Table 1: Age by Sub-Group

How the CDC Tracks COVID-19 Deaths

According to the CDC’s Technical Notes: “The provisional counts for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) deaths are based on a current flow of mortality data in the National Vital Statistics System. National provisional counts include deaths occurring within the 50 states and the District of Columbia that have been received and coded as of the date specified. It is important to note that it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated. Therefore, the data shown on this page may be incomplete, and will likely not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period, especially for the more recent time periods. Death counts for earlier weeks are continually revised and may increase or decrease as new and updated death certificate data are received from the states by NCHS. COVID-19 death counts shown here may differ from other published sources, as data currently are lagged by an average of 1–2 weeks.”

Furthermore, CDC states, “[d]eath counts in this report include laboratory confirmed COVID-19 deaths and clinically confirmed COVID-19 deaths. This includes deaths where COVID-19 is listed as a “presumed” or “probable” cause. Some local and state health departments only report laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths. This may partly account for differences between NCHS reported death counts and death counts reported in other sources.”

COVID-19 Deaths by Age Group

During the Time Period, the CDC reported that 142,164 death certificates were coded with COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death.

Among those that died of COVID-19, 270 were School Aged. To date, School Aged persons represent 0.19% of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States. That is, for every 100,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States approximately 190 are School Aged (under 25 years old). See Figures 2 and 3.

During the Time Period, the CDC estimates 113,210 COVID-19 decedents were 65 or Older, nearly 80% of all COVID-19 deaths. At the same time, nearly 33% of all COVID-19 decedents were 85 or older (44,845). See Figures 1 and 2.

Among those that died of COVID-19, the CDC estimates 28,684 were Working Age, about 20% of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States. See Figures 1 and 2.

COVID-19 is far more dangerous to persons in the 65 or Older group than School Aged group. That is, School Aged are nearly 420 times less likely to die of COVID-19 than 65 or Older (270 deaths vs. 113,210 deaths). See Figure 1.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

Pneumonia, Influenza, and All Deaths by Age Group

During the Time Period, the CDC also tracked several other categories of death including Total Deaths, Pneumonia Deaths, and Influenza Deaths.

The CDC states the following: “Pneumonia and influenza deaths are included to provide context for understanding the completeness of COVID-19 mortality data and related trends.”

Among School Aged persons, the CDC reports 270 COVID-19 deaths, 549 Pneumonia deaths, 157 Influenza deaths, and 29,486 deaths of all causes (inclusive of those previously mentioned).

Presently, School Aged are about 2.0 times more likely to die of Pneumonia than COVID-19 (549 Pneumonia vs. 270 COVID-19). Additionally, nearly 2.7 times as many School Aged persons died of either Pneumonia (549) or Influenza (157) as died of COVID-19 (270). See Figure 4.

Among School Aged persons, as a percentage of All Deaths during the Time Period, COVID-19 represents 0.86% (244 COVID-19 deaths vs. 28,186 Total Deaths). That is, School Aged persons are nearly 115 times more likely to die of any other cause than COVID-19.

Figure 4

Among persons 65 and Older, the CDC reports 113,210 deaths, 119,413 Pneumonia deaths, 4,249 Influenza deaths, and 1,183,367 deaths of all causes (inclusive of those previously mentioned).

Presently, 65 or Older are just as likely to die of Pneumonia as COVID-19 (119,413 Pneumonia vs. 113,210 COVID-19). See Figure 5.

Figure 5

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