US As COVID-19 cases soar, U.S. families weigh risks of welcoming college kids home

13:25  25 november  2020
13:25  25 november  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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The rise in COVID - 19 cases and the presence of the virus in some schools is making the new school year particularly tense and forcing some parents and students to weigh the risks before making unprecedented choices.

In general, the risk of COVID - 19 spread in schools increases across the continuum of virtual, hybrid, to in-person learning with the risk moderated for Regardless of the number of cases in a community, every school should have a plan in place to protect staff, children, and their families from the spread

By Gabriella Borter

a sidewalk sign with a building in the background: FILE PHOTO: Women with protective face masks walk on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor © Reuters/SHANNON STAPLETON FILE PHOTO: Women with protective face masks walk on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor

(Reuters) - Nina Jain was regularly checking the nation's COVID-19 data and holding out hope that her son Antonio, a sophomore who attends college in Iowa, could come home to Sacramento, California, for Thanksgiving this week.

Jain, who works in a government office, had her hopes dashed when she saw U.S. COVID-19 cases rise by an average of more than 168,000 per day last week. Antonio canceled his flight on Friday, hours before it was scheduled to depart, heeding public health warnings that a nationwide dispersal of college students heading home for the holidays could fuel a deadly wave of infections.

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US healthcare on brink as COVID - 19 hospitalizations hit all-time high. In all of the grim statistics of COVID - 19 ’ s devastation, one seemingly bright spot has been that children seem to be But again, the youngest appeared the most at risk of severe disease. In the 2,143 pediatric cases , infants under

In rare cases , children can become very sick with COVID - 19 , and deaths have occurred. That’ s why it is important to use precautions and prevent infection in Infants can also become infected shortly after being born. According to the U . S . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most newborns

"It’s like a piece of your heart is 1,500 miles away and there’s nothing you can do about it," said Jain, 44, whose Thanksgiving plan without Antonio involves wearing pajamas, cooking for herself and spending time with her pets by the fire. "You find solace in knowing you’re doing the right thing."

As COVID-19 infections skyrocket, families with college students have been forced to evaluate the risk of reuniting for Thanksgiving, when extended American families traditionally gather around the table to eat turkey dinners and show gratitude. Some have opted to roll the dice and celebrate together on Thursday, while some have canceled travel or tried to follow disease prevention protocols at home.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control warn that if college students go home for Thanksgiving, they should be considered guests and families should wear masks, stay six feet apart and open windows to mitigate the infection risk.

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While Covid - 19 deaths are rare among children and young adults, many young people are suffering long-term effects from the disease. Meanwhile, officials at some colleges and universities report rising cases of Covid - 19 as students flout guidance on social distancing.

But the 19-year-old college student died on Monday night, apparently of neurological complications related to Covid - 19 . Although colleges and universities have become hot spots in the pandemic, young, healthy people generally have been at lower risk for developing severe forms of Covid - 19 .

Cynthia Wimer, 54, who lives with her husband and elderly parents in Washington, D.C., did not want to take chances when her daughter Francesca, a sophomore at Northwestern University, came home for the holidays.

So Francesca flew home wearing an N95 mask and a face shield and checked into a hotel for 14 days, where her parents delivered her meals. She tested negative on the 7th day but finished her quarantine period to be sure she would not infect her family.

"She was returning to a vulnerable set of people," Wimer said. "We didn’t trust that a test was enough."

For some students, last-minute COVID-19 testing before leaving campus derailed their travel.

Luke Burke, a junior at Syracuse University, was planning to spend Thanksgiving with his family in New Jersey until his roommate tested positive last week. Although Burke's test came back negative, he is isolating in a hotel for two weeks to be safe.

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85 children across the U . S . have developed a rare complication thought to be linked to the coronavirus. The inflammatory condition is similar to Kawasaki disease. While severe cases of the coronavirus have largely spared children, evidence is growing that kids may not be as immune to COVID - 19

Cases at colleges and universities. Some universities have decided to hold most or all classes See the complete list and details about Covid - 19 cases in more than 16,000 nursing homes across The U . S . data includes cases and deaths that have been identified by public health officials as confirmed

"I'm sorry I can't be there with my parents, but it's the right thing to do," Burke said, speaking to Reuters by phone from his hotel room.


College students that have gone home for Thanksgiving are adjusting to a more restricted lifestyle compared to the environment on campus where they interacted more freely, albeit wearing masks, several told Reuters.

Katie Sartori came home to Maplewood, New Jersey, after her first semester at the University of Rhode Island to find the atmosphere much more cautious than in the summer, when she felt comfortable socializing with friends because the infection rate was lower.

At school, Sartori was tested weekly, attended in-person classes and ate in dining halls. At home, she plans to limit social interactions to protect her family.

"It was kind of a weird awakening," said Sartori, whose family is planning a small Thanksgiving instead of inviting friends.

Efforts by college students to limit their interactions with friends at home could save lives this winter, said Aaron Milstone, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University.

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"Traveling is one risk. But there are many risks that go along with that like, who's going to want to see that person when they come home?" he said. "All that mixing is what exacerbates this."

Still, the heightened restrictions at home have caused some friction in families.

When Craig Shannon and Shelly Hesslau's daughter Ingrid, a college freshman, came home to Missoula, Montana, she balked at some of her parents' precautions that she thought were too restrictive, Hesslau said. Ingrid had already quarantined and tested negative before flying home

"She might think she's superwoman at this point, and we're all, like, triple masking up," Hesslau said.

The family plans to eat Thanksgiving dinner around the same table, although they're considering opening windows, keeping masks on between bites and cooking in shifts to not crowd the kitchen.

"Even if everybody agreed on the risks involved, it's awkward," Craig Shannon said.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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