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Coronavirus Pandemic’s Potentially Catastrophic Impact on Children?

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The U.N. warns of the pandemic’s potentially catastrophic impact on the world’s children. But we need to stay positive and keep the virus from spreading by doing our individual parts. If not the results can be catastrophic: 

While children have been largely spared the worst of the COVID- illness, the United Nations has warned that the social and economic fallout of the pandemic “risk being catastrophic and amongst the most lasting consequences” for the young.

In a new report, researchers found that as schools remain closed, families lose income, food resources become harder to secure, and the health needs of children go unmet, hundreds of thousands of children could die and millions could be plunged into poverty.

“I appeal to families everywhere, and leaders at all levels: protect our children,” the U.N. secretary-general, António Guterres, said in a video statement announcing the report.

The report found that the pandemic was turning into “a broader child-rights crisis” that would play out unevenly around the world.

“All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are affected,” it said. “However, some children are destined to bear the greatest costs.” The report cited, “children in the poorest countries, and the poorest neighborhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations.”

“Polio vaccination campaigns have been suspended. Measles immunization campaigns have stopped in at least countries,” according to the report. “And as health services become overwhelmed, sick children are less able to access care.”Infant mortality is likely to rise, the report said.

School closures reduce many children’s nutrition and safety. Guterres said that a million schoolchildren, nearly half of the world’s total, rely on schools as a daily source of food. I was not aware of this statistic. 

Also, with children at home, and families under increasing stress, he said, “children are both victims and witnesses of domestic violence and abuse.”U.S. roundup: Trump encourages protests against some state restrictions.

President Trump on Friday openly encouraged right-wing protests of social distancing restrictions in states with stay-at-home orders, a day after announcing guidelines for how the nation’s governors should carry out an orderly reopening of their communities on their timetables.

In a series of all-caps tweets that started two minutes after a Fox News report on the protesters, the president declared, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” — two states whose Democratic governors have imposed strict social distancing restrictions. He also lashed out at Virginia, where the state’s Democratic governor and legislature have pushed for strict gun control measures, saying: “LIBERATE VIRGINIA and save your great Amendment. It is under siege!”

His stark departure from the more bipartisan tone of his announcement suggested Trump was ceding any semblance of national leadership on the pandemic, and choosing instead to divide the country by playing to his political base.

Echoed across the internet, and on cable television by conservative pundits and ultraright conspiracy theorists, his tweets were a remarkable example of a president egging on demonstrators and helping to stoke an angry fervor, that in its anti-government rhetoric, was eerily reminiscent of the birth of the Tea Party movement a decade ago.

Trump’s call for liberation from social distancing rules followed protests around the country as protesters — many wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats — congregated in packed groups around state capitols to demand that restrictions be immediately lifted, and to demonize their Democratic governors.

The tweets contrasted with his message when he told governors “you’re going to call your shots,” and said that reopening would proceed “one careful step at a time.”

After saying repeatedly that there was plenty of testing — a claim many governors, like health experts, have refuted — Trump tweeted, “the States have to step up their TESTING!”

“I was so scared that I did not leave my apartment for days,” said Ms. Price, a Tennessee native who arrived in India in January for a long work trip. Her experience is not unusual.

In recent weeks, Americans and Europeans in India have been evicted from hotels and apartments, aggressively questioned on the streets and forced to ration food in remote beach towns amid what appears to be a rise in xenophobic incidents during the pandemic. Many of India’s initial cases emerged from foreign travelers, and some South Asians believe that Westerners carry the coronavirus.

After India declared a nationwide lockdown in March, shutting most shops and halting international flights, Ms. Price, who runs a branch of her graphic design business from Hyderabad, hunkered down in a rented apartment.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been treated rudely here,” Ms. Price said. “It upset me. I have to eat, too.”

This week, after her story spread in Hyderabad, the police showed up at her apartment and offered to escort her to the store. A manager there apologized and offered Ms. Price his number.

Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat, a police commissioner in Hyderabad, said the incident was under investigation. He said Indians who blocked others from buying food based on nationality or ethnicity would be met with an “iron fist.”

“The police do not tolerate this and legal action will be taken,” he said.

The latest in science: Medical ingenuity is abounding where ventilators aren’t.

As the coronavirus rages across the globe, ventilators that pump oxygen into the lungs of critically ill patients have been embraced as the best hope for saving lives.

In the United States, fears of ventilator shortages have unleashed a wave of experimentation that is leading to some promising alternatives to help sustain patients.

Some hospitals have been using CP and BiP machines, designed for people with sleep apnea, to keep coronavirus patients breathing without having to resort to intubations and ventilators. Engineers have transformed hooded hair salon dryers into personal negative pressure chambers that deliver oxygen and limit the spread of the aerosolized virus, lowering the infection risks for health care workers and other patients.

Pulmonologists across the country have been turning to a remarkably simple intervention: flipping patients onto their stomachs, which markedly improves oxygen levels for those in respiratory distress.

Doctors say these and other ad hoc interventions have allowed many hospitals to weather the surge of desperately ill patients in recent weeks and may have helped stave off the dire ventilator shortages and rationing that some had feared.

“Some of these are battlefield interventions that we would not normally use in hospitals, but this crisis has been an incredible spur for creativity and collaboration,” said Dr. Greg Martin, a pulmonologist in Atlanta and the president-elect of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. “The beauty of this is that we’re learning a lot and hopefully some of this will translate to things we can use in the future.”

In Spain, calls to ‘free’ the children intensify under strict lockdown. Most children in Spain haven’t been outside in five weeks. Unlike in France, Britain and even Italy, children are forbidden to even take a short walk on the street or exercise near their homes.

Such confinement measures, the most stringent in Europe, have left parents, health experts and politicians alarmed over the potentially harmful consequences that the confinement will have on children’s physical and mental health.

“If adults can go for a walk with a dog, and now some nonessential economic activities are resuming, why do our boys and girls have to keep waiting?” Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, wrote on, urging the authorities to “free our children.”

Calls to ease the lockdown for children have intensified in recent days, and the Madrid region may allow children to go out for an hour once a day by the end of the month.

Confinement can lead to eating and sleeping disorders, depression and aggressive conduct, among other troubles, child experts say, all of which can have a critical impact on a young person’s development. The ban on going outside has been worse for children who live in cramped apartments without a balcony or outdoor space.

Parents have reported that their children have lost interest in activities, cried a lot or become apathetic, and some in Spain who have tried to take their children out for a short walk said the young ones have refused.

“I think I’m just afraid of the street now,” Lia Cenador, said of her refusal to go out after her mother offered her a chance to breathe some fresh air in Barcelona. “I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be on the streets.”

So, here is what I propose we all do. Stay as positive as possible around your kids. And pay more attention to your kids during these times. Try and be more patient with them during these challenges and struggles. Tell them you love them, show them, love, give them love, play games with them and make them laugh. Seeing your kids and the children being happy should help you be a little happier too. "Smile and the world will smile back." You can do this.

 "Let them breathe with happiness and shine like bright beautiful stars."  - Chris Mentillo