Rhea Boyd, MD+ Your Authors @RheaBoydMD A pediatrician and hopeful participant in democracy. Trying to do the right thing by the children of the world, one day at a time. May. 28, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

As an alumna and clinician who's passionate about racial health disparities, I want to say a couple of things about @NotreDame's decision to re-open in the fall, despite what University President Jenkins identifies as potential "fatal risks."  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/opinion/notre-dame-university-coronavirus.html 

Pres. Jenkins highlights "aggressive" testing and extensive protocols to trace and quarantine affected students. Yet data suggests up to 50% of transmission is asymptomatic. To adequately test the nearly 14,000 students and workers on campus, ND would need an enormous # of tests.

So how, with limited national testing capacity (and most medical facilities lacking tests for their asymptomatic population) will @NotreDame have enough tests to effectively monitor and prevent spread? And will testing students decrease the local testing capacity for South Bend?

Without an affiliated hospital system, how will @NotreDame treat affected students who require higher levels of care? And will doing so, also potentially decrease local access to care for South Bend residents who are not affiliated with the University?

These are perhaps the most concerning paragraphs of the entire article where Pres. Jenkins outlines the "acceptable risks" of re-opening. Apparently they include potential LETHAL risks. The question is, who, is going to take the "lethal" risk for the "education of young people?"

The answers here are clear and concerning. Employees whose jobs necessitate sustained human contact (cafeteria and custodial workers, faculty, dorm staff and their close contacts), are being asked to risk potential exposure, and apparently, whatever complications it entails.

Students who reside on an open campus, who are housed in close proximity and crowded quarters, and those who cannot afford private accommodations should they require isolation will be at increased risk as well.

The residents of South Bend, who will interact with the campus population in local businesses are potentially at increased risk of exposure as well. And while students may choose that risk, the residents of South Bend can hardly consent to it.

To then frame that risk as "moral" when many groups within the potentially exposed population will have little to no choice in the matter, is unthinkable, frankly.

Instead the moral choice, particularly at a place like @NotreDame should be to protect lives.

So the last question is, what could possibly shift an institution who's most treasured leader fought to protect lives to now ask its community and the community in which the school resides, to take a "lethal risk" just so the campus can open in the Fall? I won't answer that one.

You can follow @RheaBoydMD.


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