Tag Archive for: DeRoo

boy getting covid test

Sentiments about COVID-19 testing among Black parents in the United States

boy getting covid test

An analysis led by Sarah Schaffer DeRoo, M.D., found that knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about COVID-19 testing plays a key role in preventing COVID-19 transmission among Black parents.

Black-majority communities have been disproportionately affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections, hospitalizations and deaths. As of September 2021, Black Americans had nearly three times the hospitalization rate and double the death rate due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as compared to White Americans.

An analysis led by Sarah Schaffer DeRoo, M.D., pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital, aimed to characterize knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about COVID-19 testing – a key tool for preventing COVID-19 transmission – among Black parents.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analyzed using a phenomenology approach with 26 self-identified Black parents after telemedicine visits with a children’s health center. Three central themes emerged regarding COVID-19 testing decision-making, including perceived COVID-19 disease susceptibility, barriers to testing and cues to action. Parents were keen to pursue testing to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones, especially if they perceived a high risk for COVID-19 infection, such as due to a known positive contact. However, barriers to testing for some parents included concerns about accuracy and safety of the tests, as well as possible stigma associated with a positive test result. Parents also shared their concern that a positive test result would not be met with an appropriate medical response due to structural racism in the health care system, making some reluctant to pursue testing.

“When considering the themes that emerged from these interviews, we were able to better understand Black Americans’ views of COVID-19 testing and motivations for accessing testing,” says Dr. Schaffer DeRoo. “Culturally responsive educational campaigns delivered by trusted community members should aim to improve understanding about disease transmission and testing.”

Framing testing as a means to ensure safety and acknowledging and addressing institutionalized racism that affects COVID-19 care may improve self-efficacy to obtain testing. “The health community should learn from these conversations with Black Americans so that disease prevention and mitigation strategies prioritize health equity,” says Dr. Schaffer DeRoo.

masked kids giving thumbs up in front of school bus

Pediatricians and public health officials should unite against controversial school masking bans

masked kids giving thumbs up in front of school bus

To keep in-person learning and protect students in schools, pediatricians and public health officials must advocate for evidence-based mitigation strategies that can reduce COVID-19 transmission — especially the Delta variant, which overwhelmed pediatric emergency rooms and hospitals, argued Yang et al. in a Perspective published in the journal Pediatrics.

To keep in-person learning and protect students in schools, pediatricians and public health officials must advocate for evidence-based mitigation strategies that can reduce COVID-19 transmission — especially the Delta variant, which overwhelmed pediatric emergency rooms and hospitals, argued Yang et al. in a Perspective published in the journal Pediatrics.

The authors propose that pediatricians and their associated institutions actively advocate for masking in schools and debunk myths and misinformation during well and sick visits. In addition, they encourage doctors to develop and disseminate behavioral strategies to support children’s compliance with masking based on individual abilities and needs. Finally, providers can partner with educators at the local, district, state and national levels to advocate for evidence-based masking policies.

“As pediatricians, it is our responsibility to advocate for universal masking to facilitate safe in-person schooling for all children,” said Sarah Schaffer DeRoo, M.D., pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital and co-author of the Perspective. “Children have readily adapted to masking during the pandemic and continuing this practice in schools is not a significant change from their recent experience.”

To date, nine states have enacted policies to prohibit school masking mandates, disregarding evidence that masking is a crucial COVID-19 preventive measure, Yang et al. wrote. The court overturned these mandates in four states out of the nine because they either exceeded the governor’s executive authority or did not comply with the law granting the executive order’s authority. In other instances, judges have only placed a temporary block.

“Despite politically charged rhetoric and headline-grabbing lawsuits, evidence shows that schools without mask mandates are more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks,” said Y. Tony Yang, Sc.D., endowed professor of health policy and executive director of the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at the George Washington University, and lead author of the Perspective. “Pediatricians have generally commanded a heightened level of public trust, which suggests that pediatricians who make the case for policies that advance sound medical and public health science may have a greater chance than other advocates of generating the public and political will needed to make evidence-based policy ideas, such as school mask mandates, a reality.”

Some localities have found creative ways to circumvent state mask mandate bans by altering the school dress code to include face coverings and finding loopholes that do not apply to individual cities. Parents have also tried to challenge the policies in court, asserting that mask mandate bans violate federal anti-discrimination laws.

“Continued efforts are needed to ensure schools are able to promote reasonable, evidence-based strategies to promote the health of their students, teachers and communities, and we, as advocates for children, are obligated to emphatically support these efforts,” said Yang et al.