Opinion | Covid in Children of Color

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To the Editor:

In “Why Children in Minority Communities Are Infected at a Higher Rate” (news article, Sept. 2), I was heartened by the recognition that this difference is not due to any inherent difference among races. But no one pointed to a factor that is likely contributing to illness severity: bias within the health care system.

Racial bias by physicians is a well-documented phenomenon, and pediatricians are not an exception. Black children arriving in emergency departments are perceived as less ill than their white counterparts, and are less likely to have lab and imaging studies done when presenting with fever, a cardinal symptom of Covid-19 infection.

While it is critical for pediatricians to acknowledge and address social factors that affect health, we must also look at ourselves to ensure that we are not perpetuating disparities in the hospital and in our clinics, and putting the lives of Black and Hispanic children at risk.

Leigh Finnegan
The writer is a pediatrician.

Yes, Do Fever Checks

To the Editor:

Re “Fever Checks Are on the Rise, but Are They Effective Gatekeepers?” (news article, Sept. 14):

As a clinical pathologist trained in the statistical interpretation of medical tests, I believe that the health experts are wrong in downplaying the value of temperature checks. This is an example of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

The temperature check is inexpensive and quick and has a reasonable error rate. It will not catch the false negatives, the people who are presumably infectious and afebrile because of a lack of an inflammatory response. However, this simple test will catch the true positives, thus keeping them from the public sphere.

So, bottom line, a significant proportion of spreaders will be identified and referred for care. Those who are infectious and are false negatives will pose a public danger handled best by masks and social distancing.

The temperature check is a cheap, noninvasive procedure that will catch some but not all people who have Covid but are well enough to attend public events. To my ears, that is a public good.

Peter H. Dohan
Portland, Maine

The Gray Panthers Fight On

To the Editor:

Re “Forgotten History of the Gray Panthers,” by Susan J. Douglas (Sunday Review, Sept. 13):

Maggie Kuhn was a charismatic older woman who created a powerful intergenerational movement. The Gray Panthers movement continues to “prowl and growl” long after Ms. Kuhn’s death. We have members in 32 states. We have national task forces that meet bimonthly to plan action on issues.

This year, we are pressing again for basic reforms of the nursing home and long-term care industries. We’ve fought to protect the Postal Service from being defunded and dismantled by this president. We’ve advocated to protect and improve Social Security by lifting the cap on contributions.

We’ve advocated for women’s reproductive justice, promoted Medicare for all and pushed for passage of comprehensive Covid relief for people of all ages.

Randy Block
Jan BenDor
Mr. Block is chairman of the National Council of Gray Panthers Networks. Ms. BenDor is the council’s vice chair.

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