The basic thing people seem to keep forgetting about COVID-19 is that those without symptoms spread the disease. That’s why widespread testing is the only way to slow its spread and protect high-risk individuals, until we have a vaccine. You know who we didn’t expect would skip over this simple fact? Moms. Specifically, moms on the internet in places such as Utah, who seem to think their right to get their children out of the house is more important than the right of others to stay alive. How else to explain the so-called “mom code” reportedly spreading around Facebook, urging parents to avoid getting their children tested for COVID-19?
“If your child shows COVID symptoms, keep them home but DO NOT test … If everyone would follow that the schools could stay open,” reads one such Facebook post that was sent to KUTV in Salt Lake City.
Wait, maybe we should say this one more time: Your child could have the virus without showing symptoms. And if they do show symptoms, they may still have the virus after the symptoms stop, which is another reason why testing and contact-tracing are important.
“I personal (sic) think getting tested is selfish,” says another. “Because of the fact that they contact trace everyone so one person leads to 30 people that have to quarantine or worse, programs like athletics etc. are shut down. It’s mass hysteria cause one person came in contact with another person that had the sniffles and ran to get tested! Stop the testing Stop the Contact tracing.”
Oh, you’re right, those 30 people should definitely still be going to a high school football game after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
While this is all happening, states like Utah are seeing dramatic spikes in virus cases, and hospitals in Utah are above capacity. So if people are implementing this strategy, it’s backfiring big time.
According to the New York Times, the mom code was in play at Corner Canyon High School outside of Salt Lake City, which didn’t close until 77 students and staff had tested positive, with one teacher hospitalized and on a ventilator. Unlike school districts in other parts of the country that are implementing random testing, in these parts of Utah, testing is entirely at the parents’ discretion.
The thing is, no one is a huge fan of kids staying at home — especially when we have few other reliable options for childcare in this country and remote learning leaves so many children behind. But experts have said over and over that the best way to ensure that schools can stay open is to slow the spread of the virus (not to pretend it isn’t there). In fact, what many think really help reopen schools and keep them open is to get your kids tested even more than you think is necessary. That way you catch the virus before it spreads and keep positive test rates low.
Even when we look at promising reports from scientists showing that young children in schools aren’t causing outbreaks, these stories also still say that safety precautions need to be in place. Those precautions include testing and contact-tracing, and closing schools in places where cases are trending upward and overwhelming contact-tracing efforts.
The biggest problem with the mom code plan is that it neglects to take into account the safety of teachers, who are often more vulnerable to the virus than their students. If you care about those adults with whom you are so eager for your child to spend time, maybe make sure you’re not going to get them sick?
Let’s create a mom code that shows we care about our community as a whole, not just the few people who share our DNA.
These kids face masks are still the easiest way we can keep everyone safe right now.