COVID-19 Testing and UFT Determination

Sep 1, 2020 by

If the recent  New York Post story is true, and Mayor DeBlasio  did in fact cancel meetings and ignore 5 offers since June by the 2.500 doctor nonprofit SOMOS Community Care network network to provide free COVID-19 testing of our public schools, then his wretched judgment will be beyond even the capacity of his unscrupulous army of damage-control agents to salvage.
SOMOS had sought to begin with the highest risk schools and rapidly expand its initiative to all 1.1 million students in the DOE’s 1,866 schools.  He would have begun immediately and at no charge to teachers and students.  Billing to the City would have been deferred. From the sound of it, it was an offer the mayor couldn’t refuse and yet he did.

“The mayor is surrounded by people who do not grasp what is going on. If he opens schools the way he is proposing, parents are going to die,” said Dr. Roman Tallaj, chairman of SOMOS. It appears that the plan didn’t even get as far as the drawing boards stage and then fell through.  Incomprehensibly it seems to have been a non-starter.  Its ill-fate now shrouds the City itself.
Tallaj surmises that DeBlasio prefers the testing to be done by city-run hospitals in the mistaken notion that they would be federally reimbursed but SOMOS would not.  They would actually both be eligible for indemnification under Medicaid, Medicare and FEMA.  Perhaps the doctor is trying to be gracious by not quite condemning the mayor outright while not giving him a blanket benefit of the doubt either.

Schools are scheduled to re-open on September 10th. The monumental task of testing and PPE distribution is obviously time-sensitive. Educators will not be blindly obedient if ordered to take chances with their lives.  The United Federation of Teachers’ firm and principled resolution is blazingly clear.

Finally, under pressure of an awareness of that unshakeable determination, DeBlasio finally had a video chat last week, but to no avail.  The  SOMOS solution took off like a leaden balloon.  As of this writing, the whole school system is adrift in a sea of unncertainty.  Maybe the City will find its rigging before it’s too late.
This should not be a combat sport of political power-jockeying.  Science beckons, pleads and demands.

On The Journal of the American Medical Association’s (JAMA) website, researchers noted that in an overseas study of children hospitalized for positive COVID-19 tests, “…20 percent of the no-symptom kids were still spreading the coronavirus three weeks after they became infected.”  It is in the mayor’s bailiwick of responsibility to draw the appropriate conclusion and act upon it.  The teachers union has already done so.

The UFT is not only the standard bearer for quality education, but for quality science also.

Ron Isaac


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