Pediatricians in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota wrote a letter, pleading to the governors of the three states to help take action against COVID-19 spread.
The letter was spearheaded by the president of the North Dakota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kathy Anderson; and joined by Sheldon Berkowitz, president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and Michelle Schimelpfenig, president of the South Dakota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
They say they are “deeply concerned” about increased spread throughout the holidays, resulting in a substantial number of children who may become sick, hospitalized or asymptomatic carriers.
They say they fear increased spread will have a ripple effect on healthcare, childcare and education communities.
Read the full letter below:
Governor Doug Burgum, Governor Kristi Noem, Governor Tim Walz;
We write to you on behalf of the nearly 2 million children and adolescents in our
states, acting as their advocates in the midst of a pandemic that has changed the
face of their childhood and adolescence and altered the prospect of their futures. We
are pediatricians represented by separate state chapters of the American Academy
of Pediatrics, but our care and concern for children and adolescents knows no state
boundary lines. Therefore, we are reaching out to plead for your help in taking
action against the staggering spread of COVID-19 cases in all three of our states.
As pediatricians, we are deeply concerned about increased spread throughout
the holidays, resulting in a substantial number of children who may become sick,
hospitalized or asymptomatic carriers. Additionally, increased spread will have
a ripple effect on health care, childcare and education communities. Indeed, all
families and every community, will be deeply impacted.
North Dakota and South Dakota currently have the two highest rates of COVID-19
cases per 100,000 children in the country and Minnesota is 10th in the country.
In spite of all of this, we can offer good news: children and adolescents are resilient
and grown-ups have the power to make a difference. In the hopes of keeping all our
children in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota safe and ultimately be able
to attend school in person, which we know is the best way for them to learn and
thrive, we ask that you deliver this simple set of powerful instructions to our citizens
as we head into the holidays:
• Stick with the basics. Go out only for the essentials, wear a mask, keep your
distance from others while you are out, and wash your hands. We know these
practices work to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
• Limit contact outside your immediate household. Socialize with only the
members of your household. It’s tempting to want to include our extended
family members in our plans because they feel safe and comforting during
uncertain times, but doing so actually increases the risk that someone (little or
grown) will get COVID-19 from that gathering.
• Be creative. Find ways to make the holidays special while observing disease
prevention measures. Engage your children in the brainstorming, whether it is a
virtual holiday play for loved ones, a surprise snowman left in the front yard, or
cookie decorating online. Kids and teens are creative and adaptable.
Pediatricians are still here for you and strongly recommend that children continue
to come in for their regular check-ups and vaccinations to stay healthy. If you think
your child is sick, call your pediatrician to determine the best next step.
As medical experts and child advocates, we stand ready to support your direction
with these methods, and other ways that mitigate the spread of this devastating
disease in our states.
Kathy Anderson, MD, FAAP
North Dakota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP
Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Michelle Schimelpfenig, DO, FAAP
South Dakota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics