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

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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 October 14, 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.

Table 1: Age by Sub-Group
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+

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 188,470 death certificates were coded with COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death.

Among those that died of COVID-19, 448 were School Aged. To date, School Aged persons represent 0.22% of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States. That is, for every 100,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States approximately 220 are School Aged (under 25 years old). See Figures 2 and 3.

During the Time Period, the CDC estimates 160,080 COVID-19 decedents were 65 or Older, nearly 80.0% of all COVID-19 deaths. At the same time, nearly 31.0% of all COVID-19 decedents were 85 or older (62,357). See Figures 1 and 2.

Among those that died of COVID-19, the CDC estimates 42,515 were Working Age, about 21.0% 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 357 times less likely to die of COVID-19 than 65 or Older (448 deaths vs. 160,080 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 448 COVID-19 deaths, 780 Pneumonia deaths, 166 Influenza deaths, and 42,284 deaths of all causes (inclusive of those previously mentioned).

Presently, School Aged are about 1.7 times more likely to die of Pneumonia than COVID-19 (780 Pneumonia vs. 448 COVID-19). Additionally, nearly 2.0 times as many School Aged persons died of either Pneumonia (780) or Influenza (166) as died of COVID-19 (488). See Figure 4.

Among School Aged persons, as a percentage of All Deaths during the Time Period, COVID-19 represents about 1.0% (448 COVID-19 deaths vs. 42,284 Total Deaths). That is, School Aged persons are nearly 100 times more likely to die of any other cause than COVID-19.

Figure 4

Among persons 65 and Older, the CDC reports 160,080 COVID-19 deaths, 163,625 Pneumonia deaths, 4,332 Influenza deaths, and 2,203,043 deaths of all causes (inclusive of those previously mentioned).

Presently, 65 or Older are more likely to die of Pneumonia than COVID-19 (163,625 Pneumonia vs. 160,080 COVID-19). See Figure 5.

Figure 5

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