21 April 2023

COVID Cover-up

Welcome back. I hope you can tolerate a review of another COVID-19 study. There’s an interesting survey that found about 26% of parents either misled others about their children’s COVID status or did not adhere to public health measures. I’ll keep it short. 

COVID vaccination clinic, Chester, Pa., 15 Dec 2021 (AP Photo/Matt Rourke from www.witf.org/2021/12/30/top-stories-of-2021-covid-19-vaccine-offers-hope-while-misinformation-undermines-public-health).
The Online Survey
A team of researchers with Middlesex Community College; Utah, Colorado and Iowa universities; University College London; and Denver and Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs conducted a spinoff investigation of an earlier study, in which they had surveyed a large national sample of U.S. adults about COVID-19 experiences.

For the current study, they focused on a subset of the earlier study’s respondents--580 parents or guardians of children younger than 18 years old, living with them during the pandemic. Through an online survey, they asked if the 580 respondents had ever engaged in seven types of misrepresentation or nonadherence to COVID-19 recommendations for their children and reasons for their behaviors.

The average age of the respondents was 36; 70% were female; 14% were Hispanic, 67% non-Hispanic White, 15% non-Hispanic Black, 2% non-Hispanic Asian, and others less than 1%. Race and ethnicity data were collected because COVID-19 and public health measures disproportionately impacted individuals from underserved populations.

Behaving Badly
Of the 580 respondents, 150 (26%) reported misrepresentation, nonadherence or both in at least 1 of the 7 behaviors. The two most common behaviors were (1) allowing their child to break quarantine rules and (2) not mentioning that they thought or knew their child had COVID-19 to someone who was with or about to be with their child.

Frequency of parents misrepresenting and failing to adhere to COVID recommendations; a-of those who thought or knew child had COVID, b-of those whose child was not vaccinated, c-of those whose child was vaccinated, d-of those whose child was told to quarantine, e-of those who thought their child might have COVID (from Table 1, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2802004).
More than 50% of the respondents reported that the most common of 32 possible reasons for those two behaviors was exercising the freedom to do what they want with their child. That was also the most common reason (along with lowering the risk for school, camp, a trip or visit), for saying the child was older than he or she was to get vaccinated and saying the child was vaccinated when he or she wasn’t. Thinking it was no one else’s business was also one of the most common reasons for breaking quarantine rules.

Among other reasons for not mentioning the child’s possible COVID and breaking quarantine rules were that their child did not feel very sick; they wanted their child’s life to feel normal; they didn’t want their child to miss school or important activities; the parent didn’t want to miss an event, fun activity or work; or the parent was following guidance from a public figure, including a politician or celebrity.

Wrap Up
Given that lying about lying is a definite possibility, the researchers judge that 26% is probably the minimum number of parents who misrepresented their children’s COVID status during the pandemic.

They conclude that we need to do a better job of providing support mechanisms like paid sick leave so parents don’t feel their only option is to engage in misrepresentation or nonadherence to public health guidelines during a future infectious disease outbreak.

I expect or hope you’ll agree. Thanks for stopping by.

Study of parental nonadherence of recommendations for prevention of COVID transmission among children in JAMA Network Open: jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2802004
Article on study on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/981392

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