Connecticut is already in the second phase of reopening, and state officials expect to offer guidance today on school reopenings in the fall. But what information does the state already have regarding childcare and COVID-19?
There have been about 1,552 daycares that have remained open since the beginning of the pandemic. Many stayed open to serve the children of healthcare workers and first responders. Earlier this week summer camps were allowed to open allowing children to return to more social settings in a safe manner.
Acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford said she thinks the number of children and staff in these daycares who have contracted COVID-19 “is very, very low. Probably less than 10.”
She said they are working with the Office of Early Childhood to collect more specific information.
Commissioner of Early Childhood Beth Bye said they are participating in a national study that will report information in the next two weeks.
Walter Gilliam at the Yale University Child Study Center will head up the study and will be “geocoding all records at the county and zip levels,” so they can merge the infection rate data along with social distancing protocols and demographics.
Bye said any positive cases are reported to the local health districts and then the state.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health reported that as of June 17 there have been 619 children from birth to nine years of age who have contracted COVID-19. Another 1,286 children ages 10-19 have also contracted COVID-19.
Only two deaths possibly related to COVID-19 have been reported, one infant and another child who was between the ages of 10-19 years old, according to DPH data.
In a separate, unscientific survey of child care centers, which included at least two centers in Connecticut, Brown University economist Emily Oster found that as of Wednesday, among 923 centers serving more than 24,000 children, just over 1% of staff and 0.16% of children were confirmed infected with the coronavirus.
A Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security report from May calls on officials to quickly address the questions about children and the coronavirus.
The report calls on researchers to answer a few questions like: “How vulnerable to severe illness are students who have underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or severe obesity? How safe is it for adults who themselves have serious underlying health conditions to send their children back to school without fear of those children bringing the virus home and infecting others in the family? How safe is it for teachers, administrators, and other school staff, especially those who are medically vulnerable, to return to school and interact with students who may be asymptomatic but infectious? Are certain school communities at greater risk than others relative to exposure, and should each school community be evaluated independently to determine level of risk?”
Connecticut officials are working on getting answers to those questions.