Archives for category: Health

This is an arresting article that was written by respiratory therapist Karen Gallardo and published by the Los Angeles Times. I wish it was compulsory reading for everyone who refuses to wear a mask or to get vaccinated.

She writes:

I’m a respiratory therapist. With the fourth wave of the pandemic in full swing, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, the trajectory of the patients I see, from admission to critical care, is all too familiar. When they’re vaccinated, their COVID-19 infections most likely end after Stage 1. If only that were the case for everyone.
Get vaccinated. If you choose not to, here’s what to expect if you are hospitalized for a serious case of COVID-19.

Stage 1. You’ve had debilitating symptoms for a few days, but now it is so hard to breathe that you come to the emergency room. Your oxygen saturation level tells us you need help, a supplemental flow of 1 to 4 liters of oxygen per minute. We admit you and start you on antivirals, steroids, anticoagulants or monoclonal antibodies. You’ll spend several days in the hospital feeling run-down, but if we can wean you off the oxygen, you’ll get discharged. You survive.

Stage 2. It becomes harder and harder for you to breathe. “Like drowning,” many patients describe the feeling. The bronchodilator treatments we give you provide little relief. Your oxygen requirements increase significantly, from 4 liters to 15 liters to 40 liters per minute. Little things, like relieving yourself or sitting up in bed, become too difficult for you to do on your own. Your oxygen saturation rapidly declines when you move about. We transfer you to the intensive care unit.

Stage 3. You’re exhausted from hyperventilating to satisfy your body’s demand for air. We put you on noninvasive, “positive pressure” ventilation — a big, bulky face mask that must be Velcro’d tightly around your face so the machine can efficiently push pressure into your lungs to pop them open so you get enough of the oxygen it delivers.

Stage 4. Your breathing becomes even more labored. We can tell you’re severely fatigued. An arterial blood draw confirms that the oxygen content in your blood is critically low. We prepare to intubate you. If you’re able to and if there’s time, we will suggest that you call your loved ones. This might be the last time they’ll hear your voice.

We connect you to a ventilator. You are sedated and paralyzed, fed through a feeding tube, hooked to a Foley catheter and a rectal tube. We turn your limp body regularly, so you don’t develop pressure ulcers — bed sores. We bathe you and keep you clean. We flip you onto your stomach to allow for better oxygenation. We will try experimental therapeutics.

Stage 5. Some patients survive Stage 4. Unfortunately, your oxygen levels and overall condition have not improved after several days on the ventilator. Your COVID-infested lungs need assistance and time to heal, something that an ECMO machine, which bypasses your lungs and oxygenates your blood, can provide. But alas, our community hospital doesn’t have that capability.

If you’re stable enough, you will get transferred to another hospital for that therapy. Otherwise, we’ll continue treating you as best we can. We’re understaffed and overwhelmed, but we’ll always give you the best care we can.

Stage 6. The pressure required to open your lungs is so high that air can leak into your chest cavity, so we insert tubes to clear it out. Your kidneys fail to filter the byproducts from the drugs we continuously give you. Despite diuretics, your entire body swells from fluid retention, and you require dialysis to help with your renal function.

The long hospital stay and your depressed immune system make you susceptible to infections. A chest X-ray shows fluid accumulating in your lung sacs. A blood clot may show up, too. We can’t prevent these complications at this point; we treat them as they present.

If your blood pressure drops critically, we will administer vasopressors to bring it up, but your heart may stop anyway. After several rounds of CPR, we’ll get your pulse and circulation back. But soon, your family will need to make a difficult decision.

Stage 7: After several meetings with the palliative care team, your family decides to withdraw care. We extubate you, turning off the breathing machinery. We set up a final FaceTime call with your loved ones. As we work in your room, we hear crying and loving goodbyes. We cry, too, and we hold your hand until your last natural breath.

I’ve been at this for 17 months now. It doesn’t get easier. My pandemic stories rarely end well.

Karen Gallardo is a respiratory therapist at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.

While some parents are disrupting school board meetings to protest mask and vaccine mandates, a parent group in Los Angeles thanked the school board for mandating COVID vaccinations to protect students, teachers, staff, and families from a deadly disease.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2021


CONTACT: Jenna Schwartz, Co-Founder, 310.994.9764 (c); PSTLAUSD@gmail.com Nicolle Fefferman, Co-Founder, 323.376.6513 (c)
Parents Supporting Teachers Supports Vaccine Mandate for LAUSD Students

Parents Supporting Teachers (PST), the largest parent advocacy group supporting Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers and families, announces its support for the district’s recent approval for a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for eligible students. The vaccine requirement goes one step further to ensure the health and safety of teachers, staff, and students.
“We have been waiting for this and fully support the requirement that all students in LAUSD get vaccinated once they are eligible. With positive cases being reported weekly, the single best Covid mitigation measure is to ensure everyone in the community is vaccinated, both inside and outside of schools,” said Jenna Schwartz co-founder. California law already requires all students in both public and private schools to have certain immunizations, the Covid vaccination would be one more added to the list. It is imperative that in conjunction with this mandate, the district commits to educating and informing reluctant families about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

“I am thankful to our Board members for taking the necessary steps to protect teachers, families, and students. The district prides itself on having the safest safety protocols and mitigation measures among all school districts nationwide, including requiring that all teachers be vaccinated by October 15th. Requiring vaccines for students was an appropriate next step and one more added layer of protection we haven’t had yet this year.” said co-founder Nicolle Fefferman.

“At this point there is no denying that being vaccinated is the best defense against Covid-19. While some vaccinated people can still get infected, evidence shows that the vaccines are effective in reducing transmission and preventing severe illness and death. Not only that, but we do have students and staff unable to get the vaccine because of underlying health conditions. This policy helps protect these students and staff by building the community’s immunity to Covid. We hope families will feel safer about sending their children to school,” Fefferman added.

Parents Supporting Teachers also opposes the upcoming California governor recall election. Republican candidates have vowed to rescind mask and vaccine mandates for schools, and if successful would allow Covid 19 to spread throughout schools and our communities, putting the health and safety of all teachers, students, and families at risk.

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About Parents Supporting Teachers: Parents Supporting Teachers is a parent education advocacy group in Los Angeles with over 25,000 followers and is the only organically created group of this size exclusively dedicated to parent communication and education support in the entire LAUSD. Visit http://www.parentssupportingteachers.org to learn more and support our shared vision for equitable and inclusive LAUSD schools.

An Appeals Court in Florida overruled a lower court and reinstated Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on face-mask mandates by school districts. The decision overrides not only public health experts but common sense. At the same time, it guts local control, not permitting school districts to protect the health of their students. DeSantis’s hostility to face mask mandates will cause more cases and more deaths. Unnecessarily. Blood on his hands.

The Washington Post reported:

It’s back-to-school week for many families in the United States — just as coronavirus cases surge among children and teens. Weekly pediatric coronavirus cases surpassed 250,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, according to the most recent data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Its data shows that more than a quarter of weekly reported coronavirus cases in the United States were among children for the week ending Sept. 2. And while most pediatric cases are not severe, nearly 2,400 children were hospitalized nationwide with covid-19 in the seven days ending Tuesday — more than ever before, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.


Covid cases in children dipped early in the summer but quickly rose again, both with the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant and because coronavirus vaccines are not authorized for children under 12. Half of children ages 12 to 15 have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while that number climbs to 58 percent for 16- and 17-year-olds.


With the return to schools, experts fear the situation could worsen as battles over mask and vaccine mandates rage, although Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that is not inevitable. “We’ve got to get the school system masked in addition to surrounding the children with vaccinated people,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “That’s the solution.”

Once again, Governor DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates was overruled, at least for now. Florida has been hard hit by the Delta variant of COVID yet the Governor doesn’t want school districts to require masking. The state will appeal the ruling, since DeSantis is strongly committed to allowing parents—not schools—to decide whether students should wear masks.

The Miami Herald reported:

Tallahassee — A Leon County judge on Wednesday blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration from enforcing a ban on strict mask mandates in schools after vacating a stay on a ruling tied to a parent-led lawsuit.

That means 13 school districts with mask requirements that allow only medical opt-outs can keep enforcing their mandates. Their ability to do so might be short lived, however, as the state is expected to appeal Judge John Cooper’s decision.

The ruling had been paused on Friday when the state appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.

Cooper, however, said he does not believe the state will be harmed if his ruling stays in place through the appeals process. That’s because Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration can still enforce the Parents’ Bill of Rights — which the state invoked to enforce its ban on mask mandates — as long as the state follows it in full. That means the state cannot punish districts that have demonstrated their mask policy “is reasonable” and achieves a “compelling state interest.”

“This case has generated a lot of heat and a lot of light, but the bottom line is this case is about enforcing the law the Legislature passed, and that’s why I think setting aside this stay is appropriate,” Cooper said.

The underlying legal battle has the attention of 13 school districts in Florida — which comprise more than a majority of all public school childrenin the state — that have imposed mask mandates. The state has withheld funds equivalent to monthly salaries of school board members in two of the districts, in Broward and Alachua counties.

The court decision Wednesday is part of an ongoing, broader parent-led lawsuit that contends DeSantis and his administration overstepped their legal authority when issuing a blanket ban on mask mandates with no parent opt-out except for medical reasons.

Cooper concluded, after a four-day trial last month, that DeSantis and his administration acted “without legal authority” when invoking the Parents’ Bill of Rights to enforce the ban on mask mandates.

That law says the state is not allowed to “infringe on the fundamental rights of a parent” to direct the upbringing, education, healthcare, and mental health of a child “without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest.”

Cooper noted defendants used the first half of the statute but not the second part when they issued their order. Therefore, their actions were unlawful.

Hospital workers gathered outside Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, New York, to oppose a vaccination mandate. The hospital leader said that 82% of staff were already vaccinated.

They should go into another line of work. They could pick up the virus at work or bring the virus into work. If they refuse to abide by public health requirements, they don’t belong in medical care facilities.

those who gathered around the Route 58 traffic circle outside Peconic Bay Medical Center – Northwell Health Saturday, holding signs that said “Let Me Call My Own Shots,” “My Rights Are Essential,” “From Hero To Zero,” and “My Body, My Choice, My Rights,” said they had concerns about the mandate.

Mike Hathaway, who lives in Coram and whose wife is a nurse, was among those participating. “It’s not even about politics anymore; it’s about freedom of choice. Letting people decide what’s correct for their own bodies.”

By the rhetoric they use about “my body, my choice,” you might think it was a pro-abortion rally.

Perhaps they could find outdoor work at one of the North Fork’s wonderful farms or vineyards, where they won’t endanger anyone else.

New York State mandated mask-wearing in school. Six students arrived at school in Islip without masks. They were directed to a separate room. Their parents showed up promptly and called the police. This is a story that is repeated, in various ways, in districts across the nation, as parents debate and fight over whether their children should follow public health guidelines.

This is the question: why don’t these parents object too vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, smallpox, and other contagious diseases?

On Thursday morning, six Islip Middle School students came to school without masks. When staff asked them to put masks on, as required by current New York State health rules, the students refused. They were escorted to a room with a security guard when, according to the Suffolk County Police Department, a parent of one of the students called police, who arrived at 9:50 a.m…

Islip Superintendent Dennis O’Hara issued a statement about the incident: “The safety and well-being of our students and staff continues to be a top priority,” he said.

In a Facebook group called “Moms for Liberty—Suffolk County,” parents against school masks compared the district’s actions to “segregation.”

Mike Klonsky writes about the public schools that were closed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel (recently appointed as Ambassador to Japan). Emanuel ordered the closure of 50 schools in one day, something never done before by anyone. The reason given was “underutilization.”

Now, in the midst of the pandemic, Chicago public schools are overcrowded.

Klonsky writes:

Back in 2016, there was a plan to turn Dett into a center for women and girls or an artist incubator but potential buyers for the building backed out. So CPS was stuck with it. Neighborhood students were instead assigned to nearby Herbert or enrolled in charter schools.

Today students are back in school in Chicago with classrooms packed to overcapacity. Many schools are overcrowded with some kindergarten classrooms stuffed with more than 30 children, a horrifying thought in the middle of this deadly pandemic when there’s not yet a vaccine available for young children.

The lack of available classroom space forced the board to roll back its distancing requirement from six feet to three feet “wherever possible” with unmasked kids often eating together, shoulder-to-shoulder in school lunchrooms. In the high schools, we’re seeing images of students, many unvaxed, packed together in crowded hallways between classes.

I can’t even imagine being a short-handed teacher, trying to keep up with 32 or so kinders, keeping them masked and at least three feet apart, all the while trying to do some great teaching. And yet, like so many heroic doctors, nurses, and front-line medical staff, teachers are giving it their best shots. But I doubt this mode is sustainable.

CPS is operating in crisis mode in a churning sea of divisive state politics, racial segregation and inequities, all exacerbated by the resurgent Delta variant.

Schooling in a pandemic and preparation for post-pandemic schooling offers a chance for school planners and educators to take a more holistic approach and to try and undo the damage done by the mass closing of schools a decade ago.
The idea that we still have boarded-up school buildings and schools in some neighborhoods with excess classroom space, while in others, students are dangerously jammed together, is mind-boggling.

Jesse Hagopian is a high school teacher in Seattle and a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement. This column appeared on Valerie Strauss’ blog, The Answer Sheet, at the Washington Post. .

I must be honest. I haven’t been this scared about beginning the school year since I was a kindergartner clutching my mom’s hand on the first day of school.


As a teacher in the Seattle Public Schools, I know I’m not alone in my distress as the first day of school approaches. It’s not just the usual butterflies I still get (even after 20 years of teaching) before school starts in anticipation of meeting a whole new group of youths and knowing I will need to figure out how to meet the needs of a very diverse group of learners.

This year’s back-to-school anxiety is generated from two pandemics: the delta variant of the coronavirus and bills banning teaching about structural racism from Republican Party politicians.

Covid has many educators fearing for their lives and the lives of the families whose children they teach. And the bills banning teaching about structural racism have educators fearful for their jobs and their ability to be true to their students about the history of this country.

Beginning in the spring of 2021, a rash of GOP-sponsored bills proliferated in state legislatures around the country with the stated goal of banning any teaching that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.”

According to Merriam-Webster, “fundamental” means “serving as an original or generating source.” Given the genocide of Native American people and the enslavement of African people in the land that became the United States before its founding, you literally can’t teach about U.S. history without talking about systemic racism.

Already in eight states in the United States of America — Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, New Hampshire, Arizona and South Carolina — it is illegal to teach the truth to children.

To date, some 28 states have introduced legislation that would require teachers to lie to students about structural racism and other forms of oppression. The state education boards in Florida, Georgia, Utah and Oklahoma have introduced guidelines banning an honest account of the role of racism in society.

The 1619 Project, and two of the organizations with which I organize — the Zinn Education Project and Black Lives Matter at School — have become some of the primary targets of this right-wing attack.

In addition, individual teachers have come under vicious attacks for daring to teach the truth. Matthew Hawn, a teacher in Tennessee, was fired from his job for assigning a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and a poem by Kyla Jenee Lacey about White privilege. A teacher named Amy Donofrio was fired for having a Black Lives Matter flag in her classroom. At least four administrators in Southlake, Tex., left amid hostile conditions created from a backlash to diversity and inclusion efforts that they were helping to lead.

Even in states without the bills that ban teaching about structural racism — such as Washington — educators are facing a backlash for teaching the truth about American history and current events.
A teacher in the Tri-Cities area had physical threats made against her for signing the Zinn Education Project’s pledge to “Teach the truth — regardless of the law.” (The last part is no longer part of the pledge.) Seattle school board candidate Dan Harder ran a campaign opposing critical race theory in schools. The Chehalis School District passed a resolution that explicitly states students will not be taught that people are “guilty or innocent” based on their race — a straw man argument that suggests educators who teach about racism are trying to shame White people, rather than help youths understand the way multiracial movements can challenge structural racism.

In the face of these attacks, the Zinn Education Project and Black Lives Matter at School have launched the #TeachTruth campaign in an effort to push back against these racist bills.
A central component of the #TeachTruth campaign is an online pledge to teach the truth — regardless of bills trying to outlaw honest history — that has already garnered more than 7,200 signatures.

The African American Policy Forum has joined with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project; all three groups are planning rallies and mobilizations for this weekend. Additionally, Black Lives Matter at School is organizing a national day of action in schools on Oct. 14 — George Floyd’s birthday — and is calling on educators to teach lessons that day about structural racism and oppression.

As part of this weekend’s action, educators and organizers in Seattle are planning a rally at Yesler Terrace — the first racially integrated public housing project in the United States. Many of my students over the years have lived in Yesler Terrace, and it has housed generations of low-income Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), refugees and people with disabilities. But city policy has undermined the Yesler Terrace project, as organizers of the Seattle rally pointed out in their news release:

Yesler Terrace used to consist of 561 homes for low-income residences. The new development at Yesler Terrace only consists of about 300 apartments that are owned by the Housing Authority and have rent set at 30 percent of the household income. The rest of the apartments are privately owned and rented at market rates. There is less low-income housing in Yesler Terrace now.

Policies that have reduced the number of public housing units available in BIPOC communities — after generations of bank redlining restrictions — reveal the way that structural racism works and why it is so important for students to be racially literate.

Yet when teachers help students understand the way structural racism operates, right-wing politicians howl that they are politicizing the classroom. The reality is, however, that students are already talking about these issues and demanding that educators address them.

Students are asking us about why their schools and neighborhoods are so segregated, why there are so many cases of police brutality, why it is so hard to vote, or why more people of color are dying of covid. Educators can either deceive students about the powerful role of structural racism in answering these questions, or they can help students better understand the world they live in so that they can change it.

For me and many educators around the country, there’s no choice. We are teaching honest history because it’s our duty.

I certainly have apprehensions about the school year starting during a pandemic and knowing that the kind of teaching I do can make me a target.

But I also know what side of history I’m on. As the great educator Septima Clark, called the “Queen Mother” of the civil rights movement, once said: “I believe unconditionally in the ability of people to respond when they are told the truth. We need to be taught to study rather than believe, to inquire rather than to affirm.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the state of South Carolina for its law banning mask mandates, on grounds that such a ban jeopardizes students with disabilities.

The ACLU released the following explanation:

Right now, schools are resuming during yet another pandemic surge. And in some states, instead of working to keep students and teachers safe, lawmakers are deliberately rejecting urgent public health guidance.

One key state to watch is South Carolina, where a budget provision passed this summer that prohibits public school districts from requiring masks.

South Carolina’s law endangers everyone, but particularly targets students with disabilities that put them at higher risk for severe illness, lingering disabilities, or even death due to COVID-19. As a result, lawmakers have effectively excluded students with disabilities from public schools.

That’s why we’re calling on the courts to intervene. This week, we filed a federal lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s ban on mask mandates in schools, on behalf of Disability Rights South Carolina, Able South Carolina, and parents of students with disabilities.

When schools are prohibited from taking reasonable steps to protect the health of their students, the parents of children with disabilities are forced to make an impossible choice: their child’s education, or their health.

And under federal disability rights laws, public schools cannot exclude students with disabilities, nor can they segregate them or offer lesser services by requiring them to learn from home.

Let’s be clear: Schools are obligated to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from a public education. State politicians cannot override federal disability rights laws.

SC’s law flies in the face of public health guidelines from the CDC, from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, from the American Association of Pediatrics, from the American Medical Association, as well as advice from hundreds of physicians and educators across the state. All recommend universal masking.

Refusing to follow public health guidelines disproportionately endangers students with disabilities who have health conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

Regardless of where you live, what happens in a state like South Carolina – which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country – impacts all of us. We won’t stop fighting to guard our civil rights and liberties during this pandemic – in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Please stay tuned for more updates and thanks for all you do.

Suzan Mizner
Pronouns: She, her, hers
Director of the ACLU Disability Rights Program