Rhode Island reopened day cares with out main virus outbreaks: research

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A closed day care center can be seen in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York on July 13, 2020
A closed day care center can be seen in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York on July 13, 2020

Rhode Island, the smallest US state, was able to reopen day care programs in the summer without high rates of coronavirus spread, according to a study on Friday.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who authored the study, thought it was an example that could be repeated across the country.

"I think this is an inspirational article for individuals to tell that there is a way to use or work with their health authorities to safely reopen these childcare programs," he said in a call to reporters.

A total of 666 out of 891 childcare programs, both in centers and at home, reopened in Rhode Island on June 1 after the number of cases and hospitalizations in the state fell significantly.

Officials imposed measures such as universal masking for adults, daily symptom screening for everyone, routine disinfection, reducing class size (first to 12 and then 20), and maintaining stable bladders for staff and children.

The programs also had to adhere to strict quarantine and contact tracing measures if an outbreak occurred.

One important caveat is that while the report had a capacity for 18,945 children, it does not know how many children were actually present during the period studied.

The CDC said in a statement to AFP that the number of children participating had not been recorded, making the overall meaning of the results more difficult to assess.

Between June 1 and July 31, 52 cases – either confirmed or likely – were reported from a total of 29 programs.

Among them, 20 programs had one case and five programs had between two and five cases – all reportedly from outside the programs.

In total, four of the 666 programs had "secondary" transmission, ie an infection or infections that occurred in the center itself.

This happened either when adults switched between classes contrary to guidelines or when children infected other children in the same group.

Despite the relatively small number of cases, its impact was still significant: a total of 89 classes were closed and 853 employees and children had to be quarantined for 14 days.

The state has just over a million inhabitants and is divided into five counties.

In one of these cases, 11 new cases occur for every 100,000 people, making it an orange zone according to the readings developed by Harvard.

The rest see between one and 10 cases per 100,000 and are therefore yellow.

The university recommends districts with 25 cases per 100,000 or more, ie red zones, not reopening learning facilities until transmission rates in the community have decreased.

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© 2020 AFP

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Reopening the Day in Rhode Island Without Major Virus Outbreaks: Study (2020, Aug 21)
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