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The Times hears from readers worried about the pandemic and indoor dining in Beaverton schools.

Concerned about the 'other' respiratory virus surge

As a pediatric nurse at a children's hospital here in Oregon, I have watched with concern as other parts of the country deal with a COVID-19 surge at the same time they are grappling with an unseasonable surge in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

RSV is a common childhood disease that usually hits in colder months. It is easily confused with a common cold but can be very serious especially for young children. The disease is responsible for nearly 16 times more infant hospitalizations than influenza and kills up to 500 children under age 5 every year.

Around 2,000 confirmed cases were recorded across the U.S. during the week of July 10, 2021, compared to less than a dozen during the week of July 25, 2020. The actual number of infections is likely higher, since clinicians may not test sick children for RSV outside its usual season.

In areas where RSV and COVID-19 are creating a "surge upon surge," healthcare providers are expressing concern about hospital bed availability and strain on the healthcare system.

While there are vaccines for COVID-19, there is currently no vaccine for RSV. However, medical researchers are close to finalizing two products, one for children and one for expectant mothers, that will protect infants against RSV.

Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect children from harmful diseases.

Once they are available, the Centers for Disease Control must ensure that RSV immunizations are included in the recommended childhood immunization schedule just like DTaP, polio and hepatitis.

While this summer RSV surge is unique, RSV outbreaks happen every year and these immunizations can keep thousands of children from the hospital and save hundreds of children's lives every year. RSV immunizations belong on the CDC's recommended immunization schedule and the Vaccines for Children program.

Brianna Mishler, Portland

Nervous about indoor dining at Beaverton public schools

I have seen and read articles recently about school starting and plans for a safe school year.

Portland Public Schools made the great decision to have meals outdoors for the first six weeks. Unfortunately, Beaverton School District did not follow suit.

The district left it up to school principals to decide whether or not they offer an outdoor seating option for lunch. I have contacted the school district directly and was told that this is at the principal's discretion and out of their hands.

I am astonished at the lack of accommodation given to to the students at Vose Elementary, where my 9-year-old is set to attend. The principal is not offering an outdoor option and insists that the schools filtration system is strong enough to keep the mask-less, eating children safe.

COVID-19 does not take a lunch break, and 6 feet of spacing is not enough to stand up to the delta variant. I'm writing in hopes that you will help me spread the word about this and help make a change. School starts Wednesday, Sept. 8. [Ed.: This letter was received prior to the start of the school year.] I have not researched how many other principals in Beaverton have also made this poor decision, but I'm sure Vose is not alone. Even is it were just Vose Elementary, this has super-spreader potential that will impact the entire community.

Brooke Johnson, Beaverton

Time for Oregon's COVID vaccine mandate

Now that Gov. Kate Brown has reinstated a statewide mask mandate, let's go all the way with a vaccination mandate.

Many of us have friends and neighbors who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and have refused to get it, thusly slowing the end of the pandemic and increasing the danger for other citizens.

Ask yourself this: Do you want to be browsing for books at the library or bookstore next to an unvaccinated person? Do you want to be shopping for produce next to an anti-vaxxer?

Hats off to the bars and restaurants that are leading the way by restricting entry to those who can show a valid CDC vaccination card. Let's do this, elected leaders, or get out of the way.

The COVID-19 virus will only leave when it has nobody left to infect.

Frank DiMarco, Portland


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