Local pediatrician suggests Gov. DeSantis should ‘stick to law’

Doctor criticizes politicians for confusing the public

Pediatricians ask parents to 'stay vigilant' during coronavirus pandemic
Pediatricians ask parents to 'stay vigilant' during coronavirus pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local pediatrician Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen is setting the record straight about kids and whether they can transfer COVID-19 to adults.

“The answer is unequivocally yes,” he said Wednesday during an interview on The Morning Show. He insisted it is irresponsible of politicians to suggest otherwise.

Goldhagen, who has been practicing pediatrics for 40 years and is the former director of the Duval County Health Department, was referring to comments Gov. Ron DeSantis made Monday during a news conference. The governor criticized public school systems that have closed during the pandemic by calling the decision “probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history.”

RELATED: Fact-checking Gov. DeSantis: Can children spread coronavirus to adults?

During that news conference, the governor also cited a study, published in June: “There’s a study out of Iceland that got virtually no coverage in the United States that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine,” he said. “They did genetic sequencing of their positive PCR test samples and were able to determine which directions the infections were going. They identified exactly zero infections going from a kid to an adult.”

Shortly after making that statement, a spokesperson for deCODE genetics, which authored the study, sent News4Jax a copy of a letter the company sent to DeSantis, which contradicted the governor’s’ assertion:

Gov. Ron DeSantis,

Your statement that there is a study coming out of Iceland showing that children cannot transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus is false. No such study exists. The fact of the matter is that our study shows that children have somewhat less probability of getting infected if exposed and are also somewhat less likely to transmit the virus if they get infected. However, children get infected and they transmit the virus and therefore when other social interactions are kept at the minimum schools can become major contributors to the dissemination of the virus.

Kari Stefansson CEO, deCODE genetics, Iceland

News4Jax contacted the governor for his response, and his office said, “The governor was not saying, nor would he ever insinuate that it is impossible to transmit COVID-19 from kids to adults. Your fact check fact-checked a paraphrased remark.”

Goldhagen suggested this kind of messaging by politicians does nothing but confuse the public, “our politicians, in particular our politicians who are lawyers, should stick to the law and not be practicing medicine and public health,” he explained.

“The irresponsible statements made by our politicians are resulting in thousands of deaths in Florida, tens of thousands perhaps hundreds of thousands of deaths in the country, so it is extremely irresponsible for our politicians to be spreading information that is unequivocally not true,” Goldhagen said. “People in our communities look to our politicians for advice, and they are getting the wrong advice, and it is resulting in excess deaths. We as a community need to stop that.”

Goldhagen said parents need to understand the facts so they can protect themselves and older adults.

“We have learned much over these past eight months of the pandemic. What we do know is that children under the age of 10 or so are much less likely to get the disease and are much less likely to spread the disease,” he explained. “Children over the age of 10 are as likely to get the disease as adults and as likely to spread the disease.”

If a child in your household tests positive, Goldhagen said parents need to know to take precautions. \

“Isolation, isolation, isolation, keeping the kids isolated, keeping the masks, people in the home keeping masked, people who are high risk perhaps leaving the home, if possible, but certainly staying as isolated as possible,” he said.

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