The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff, children and relatives associated with childcare facilities in Alabama was unclear on Tuesday because the Alabama Department of Public Health refused to release such data.
“All cases of COVID-19 must be reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health under notifiable disease laws. ADPH is aware of cases in entities such as childcare, but it does not report separately from other data, “Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer, said in a message to APR Tuesday.
APR asked for such data and whether ADPH was aware of the number of cases associated with child care centers across the state.
Landers noted that ADPH provides the percentage of cases across age groups, however. There have been about 2,628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Alabama children aged 4 and younger as of Monday, according to the ADPH dashboard, but the department does not specify which of these cases are associated with the care centers around the world. childhood, and it was unclear how many cases there were among relatives or workers connected to childcare centers.
While children 10 years of age and older can effectively transmit COVID-19 to others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a recent report note that “limited data is available on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from young children,” particularly in children’s care settings. “
The September 18 CDC report examined three outbreaks of COVID-19 in childcare facilities in Salt Lake County, Utah, from April 1 to July 10, and found that the 12 children who contracted the disease they spread it to at least 12 others outside the centers and one parent was hospitalized with coronavirus.
In one facility, researchers confirmed five cases among workers and two among children. One of those babies, aged 8 months, passed COVID-19 to both parents, the report notes. Many of the children had mild or no symptoms at all, the researchers found.
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“COVID-19 is less severe in children than in adults, but children may still play a role in transmission,” the report read. “Infected infants exposed in these three facilities had mild to no symptoms. Two of the three asymptomatic children probably passed on SARS-CoV-2 to their parents and possibly their teachers. “
While the Alabama Department of Public Health is not releasing data on cases associated with child care centers, many other states are, including Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts.
There have been 332 confirmed cases, two deaths, and 14 separate outbreaks associated with child care centers in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the Los Angeles Times, health officials in California’s Sonoma County tracked 30 coronavirus cases to a child at a county childcare center, where 16 students, 11 relatives and three workers tested positive. In addition to that outbreak, there were 62 other cases in 13 child care facilities in the county, including 27 family members, 10 workers and 25 students, with 381 cases of children under the age of 17 still under investigation. , the newspaper reported on Sept. 21.
The reopening of childcare centers can be done safely, according to an Aug.28 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that Rhode Island, which reopened childcare centers on June 1, c ‘there were only 52 confirmed and probable cases among staff, children and relatives in 29 centers between 1 June and 31 July.
The report noted that Rhode Island initially limited centers to 12 students or fewer, required staff and students not to move between groups in the centers, and “the universal use of adult masks, daily screening of adult symptoms and children and better cleaning and disinfection according to CDC guidelines. “
On March 19, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris issued an order to close childcare centers until April 5, with exceptions for facilities that provided services to first responders and other workers. deemed essential. Harris on March 27 issued a supplemental order allowing centers caring for 11 children or fewer to reopen.
The Alabama Department of Public Health released a press release on Monday calling for the number of child care centers open across Alabama. According to the department, 76% of all childcare facilities in Alabama are open.
“Alabama is on track to reopen the necessary number of childcare facilities to allow parents to return to work and resume a more normal schedule,” said Nancy Buckner, Alabama DHR commissioner. “This is the sixth survey we have conducted and each of them has shown tremendous growth in the number of open facilities. We have worked hard to encourage childcare providers to open up by providing support in the form of scholarships and supplies. “
Asked if the department is aware of the number of cases of COVID-19 among children, staff or relatives associated with childcare centers, a DHR spokesperson responded in a message to APR Monday that “We do not keep track”.
While childcare plays a vital role for working parents across the country, the pandemic and subsequent closures have put a strain on businesses, according to a July 13 study by the National Association for the Education of Young Children , which surveyed more than 5,000 child care facilities in every state.
Among the child care centers surveyed, two out of five said they should have closed without public assistance, while half of the minority-owned centers said they should close without further aid, according to the report. A quarter of child care workers said they had applied for or received unemployment benefits and 73% of centers said they had or will start firing workers and / or reducing wages.
An Aug. 26 study by the nonprofit Washington DC-based Bipartisan Policy Center found that 32% of parents surveyed said their childcare centers were closed, 14% permanently and 22% % of parents said they could not go back to work in person without childcare.
Even when childcare is available to parents, many are worried about sending their children back as COVID-19 continues to spread. Of those questioned, 77% of parents said they were concerned that sending their children back would increase their risk of exposing their family to COVID-19.