Restricted Testing for Kids Creates a Covid ‘Blind Spot’

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Limited Testing for Children Creates a Covid ‘Blind Spot’

CVS Health has slowly lowered the minimum age at its 1,944 drive-through inspection stations across the country. The pharmacies initially only accepted adult patients, but lowered the minimum age to 16 in August and is currently lowering it to 12 this month.

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Updated September 4, 2020

The latest on how schools are reopening amid the pandemic.

    • Since the pandemic began, there have been at least 51,000 coronavirus cases in more than 1,000 American universities, the latest survey by the New York Times shows.
    • SUNY Oneonta canceled classes and sent students home because of a coronavirus outbreak.
    • Millions of students in Latin America are dropping their degrees because of the pandemic.
    • Professional license exams have been severely disrupted by the coronavirus, making it difficult for newly trained lawyers, doctors, and others to begin their careers.

"Because we are using self-administered swabs, we have evolved our testing protocols to learn more about the possibilities," said William Durling, a CVS spokesman. "Twelve years old is the age at which our team believed a child could probably wipe itself."

At the start of the pandemic, health officials did not focus on children as a vulnerable population, as few were hospitalized for the virus. Some scientists even thought that children as a whole could be safe from coronavirus infection.

But now that schools are up and running and signs of infection in children are more established, the testing infrastructure for children in many communities has major gaps. Nir Menachemi, professor of Health policy and management at Indiana University called it a blind spot that hampered plans to reopen the school and efforts to understand the spread of the virus.

"When you have a blind spot, from a public health perspective, you cannot respond with the right messages or the right policies to protect the vulnerable," he said.

When Christine Carter's 5-year-old son West had a fever and vomiting, she feared it could be a coronavirus. However, her pediatrician's practice said these tests were only done on Tuesdays and Thursdays and all appointments that week were already booked.

"He already had a week by the time I got it tested," said Ms. Carter, who lives outside of Baltimore. "It turned out to be an allergic reaction, but if I really have to get it tested in the future, I'm afraid the process will be very tedious."

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