During the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, my Great Aunt Dora spent long hours visiting the homes of her rural neighbors to care for the sick and dying. A visit to the cemeteries in that rural community will attest to the severity of that pandemic. Miraculously, Aunt Dora never contracted the disease.
The Spanish Flu killed an estimated 50 million people at a time when the global population was only 1.8 billion. The current global population is 7.8 billion.
Today, Missouri and nations around the globe are in a race to stay ahead of the pernicious SARS-CoV-2 virus.
On Sunday, the CDC again strengthened its recommendations for mass gatherings. For the next eight weeks, mass gatherings of more than 50 people are to be avoided. Governor Parson supports that new CDC recommendation.
I am retired from a 37-year career with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. During community disease outbreaks, school closure is often the No. 1 strategy to quell the spread of a contagion. Kids will be kids. They can’t be expected to adequately practice precautionary procedures to prevent the spread of disease organisms.
Thirty states — if that number hasn’t already gone up — have shut down their schools statewide. A few Missouri schools have made the decision to close, but their boards and administrators are undoubtedly taking heat for being out in front of the pack.
Governor Parson and his team of disease specialists have done a good job. The day-to-day decisions they are making under the emergency declaration are incredibly difficult.
However, the decision to close all Missouri schools should be made now, not later. Time is of the essence in this pitched battle.
Yes, I fully understand the hardships posed by such closures but delaying the decision to close schools could turn out to be a costly mistake. Most Missouri schools are on spring break so closing the schools now will give parents and guardians a few extra days to make arrangements to deal with their upended daily routines.
Missourians are unquestionably tough and resolute. Together we will prevail.
Ron Boyer was the Assistant Director of Health for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department when he retired from public service in 2007.