As we head into the next phase of the pandemic, I think it is going to be important to focus on a few key issues.
· The direct impact on children has been minimal, this does not diminish the tragedy of those children affected and those who have died, but the COVID19 virus continues to spare most children.
· The incidence of Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS) is a rare complication to a rare disease. We need to monitor this carefully as pediatricians but the need for further worry for parents is minimal.
· Although the direct effects of the virus have been minimal the indirect effects have been significant. There has been a huge increase in the numbers of children seen in Emergency Rooms across the country with mental health disorders.
· Immunization rates have decreased across the country with individuals not coming in for their well child checks. In Michigan it has been discovered that 22% of the Medicaid population is now behind on their immunizations. I have grave concerns about the rise of vaccine preventable disease that does affect children primarily
· As the nation re-opens, it is clear not everyone is on the same page as we move forward. I see some people continuing to follow “safer at home” protocols, while others are ready to be back to normal. There are two issues that arise with this; first we must respect each other’s opinions on how to best move forward. To be honest there are no experts here, we are all trying to make educated guesses. We are using our knowledge of past pandemics, related coronaviruses, and evolving data of COVID19, and making models based on our best estimates. These are projections not predictions, but uncertainty is sometimes scarier than what is predictably dire.
· Life is associated with risk. We will all need to consider how much risk we are willing to take as we move forward. It is my hope that we will be able to get the kids back to school as I feel that most kids need their classmates and teachers physically present to learn most efficiently. Not all lessons they learn at school involve the 3 R’s. Some of the most important lessons we learn at school are respecting other’s opinions and listening to other’s viewpoints. I have found this lacking at times, even amongst some of my colleagues.
· I am certain that we will get through all of this. We may be different on the other side, but it is my sincere hope that society, will be better for this. Stay sane and stay safe.