COVID-19 infections have been up for several weeks as part of the third peak in the US; however last weekend we saw a very aggressive surge in cases. I had believed this might be related to the election as the surge was approximately four to five days after November 3rd. Last night I heard an alternative explanation that sounds very plausible.
The Superintendent of the Romeo school district in southeastern Michigan, Todd R. Robinson, announced on TV last night that they were taking classes online. He was respectful of the issues this caused parents, but had no choice. In his words, “(our) cases have doubled in number this week and we have seen a significant increase in our non-school associated quarantines because of confirmed cases in the homes of our students. Our ability to staff in-person instruction has been stretched beyond our capacity in many areas of the district.”
Of interest, he believes the most recent increase in infections was related to Halloween. Mr. Robinson stated that students were attending gatherings for the holiday and were even being joined by adults. Because most of these people knew each other well, he felt that they let their guard down.
COVID-19 infection rates in SE Michigan primary and secondary schools seem to spike late last week and over the weekend, which fits perfectly for a timeline of five to seven days after a Halloween infection. As I noted last night, the rate of increase in Michigan has slowed somewhat this past week, also pointing to October 31 as a potential source of increasing infections.
Before Halloween there was widespread concern about super spreading events related to the holiday. There were even recommendations on the CDC website about safe practices. But follow up on the holiday seemed to get lost in the election, and no concerted effort was made to measure potential infectious events related to Halloween.
At this point it may seem academic as to the impact Halloween had causing this recent surge. However, since Thanksgiving is approach it could similarly cause significant spreading. It could be all the more important to stop holiday gatherings.
In fact, compared to the more general restrictions now being put in place limiting Thanksgiving events may be the one crucial action that could prevent yet another rise in infections and hospitalizations.