A study of more than 57,000 childcare providers across the United States has found that those who continued working through the initial months of the pandemic weren’t more likely to catch COVID-19 than those who were out of work. The findings, which were published October 14 in the journal Pediatrics, indicate that childcare programs aren’t likely to spread COVID-19 through the community when employees take precautions such as wearing masks and keeping the kids in their care socially distanced from each other.
“These childcare providers were doing near-Herculean things to try to keep children safe; the good news is it appears to have worked,” says Walter Gilliam, director of Yale University’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and a coauthor of the new findings. “We need to continue supporting childcare providers and making sure that childcare providers have what they need in order to continue doing this.”
Although children do transmit the novel coronavirus to other kids and adults, the role schools and childcare centers play in spreading COVID-19 is still poorly understood. To find out whether people who work in childcare centers have an elevated risk of catching COVID-19, Gilliam and his colleagues surveyed these providers in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico in late May and early June. The respondents represented over 70 percent of the nation’s more than 3,100 counties. Roughly half had worked in childcare programs that closed near the beginning of the pandemic.
Of the 57,335 respondents, 427 (less than 1%) reported that they had tested positive for or been hospitalized with COVID-19. At the time, roughly the same amount of adults in the United States had tested positive for the novel virus. Gilliam and his colleagues found that the respondents who’d continued working weren’t more likely to catch COVID-19 than those whose childcare centers had closed. However, Black, Latino, and Native American childcare workers were more likely to become infected than their white peers, regardless of whether they’d been working during the first three months of the pandemic. Childcare workers in counties with high numbers of COVID-19 deaths had an elevated risk of catching COVID-19, whether or not they were working.
Respondents who’d continued working took extensive steps to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 in their workplaces, where most of the children they cared for were under 6 years old. More than 90 percent reported that staff and children frequently washed their hands and that indoor surfaces were disinfected at least daily; more than half disinfected indoor surfaces three times every day. Many also screened the children for a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 and used social distancing measures such as placing seats more than 6 feet apart, keeping children in small
State public health officials are urging Congress to provide at least $8.4 billion in emergency funding for distributing a coronavirus vaccine, warning that they do not currently have enough money to carry out the immense logistical effort.
The letter to bipartisan congressional leaders came from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), a group that represents state public health departments, and the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM), which represents states’ vaccination officials.
While much attention has been placed on the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, there is also the daunting challenge of distributing that vaccine and getting shots into the arms of over 300 million people in the United States.
There are additional logistical challenges given that some of the potential vaccines require storage at extremely cold temperatures, meaning they require special freezers.
Claire Hannan, AIM’s executive director, warned in a statement that without additional funding, the vaccination effort is “doomed to fail.”
“We want to be absolutely clear – states and local partners cannot conduct an unprecedented and incredibly complex national vaccine distribution program without adequate resources,” she added.
So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has distributed only $200 million to states for vaccination efforts.
“This funding is a necessary first step but equals approximately 60 cents per person,” Hannan said. “It is not adequate to vaccinate every American with the expected two dose course at this amount.”
The letter calls for $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training for state and local health departments, $1.2 billion for transportation and storage at the needed cold temperatures, $500 million for outreach efforts to fight vaccine misinformation and $1 billion for creating additional vaccination sites, among other requests.
The CDC itself has also told Congress it urgently needs more funding for the vaccination effort, a figure CDC Director Robert Redfield put at $6 billion last month. “The time is now for us to be able to get those resources out to the state, and we currently don’t have those resources,” Redfield said at a congressional hearing in September.
But there is no clear path for Congress to provide that funding, given that lawmakers have been mired in disagreement for months over the next coronavirus relief package, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeds investigating if alleged Hunter Biden emails connected to foreign intelligence operation: report Six takeaways from Trump and Biden’s dueling town halls Biden draws sharp contrast with Trump in low-key town hall MORE, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Mnuchin says Trump will lobby McConnell on big COVID-19 deal On The Money: McConnell shoots down .8 trillion coronavirus deal, breaking with Trump | Pelosi cites progress on testing provisions | Jobless claims spike to 898K United CEO: Business demand for air travel won’t return until 2024 MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFeinstein’s hug of Lindsey Graham sparks outrage on the left Overnight Health Care: Georgia gets Trump approval for Medicaid work requirements, partial expansion | McConnell shoots