Former HHS chief weighs in on frightening virus effects on children

May 16, 2020, 9:12 AM
children virus Utah schools reopen racism in school...
SLCPD reminds drivers to be safe around students and busses. (Photo: John Wojcik, KSL NewsRadio)
(Photo: John Wojcik, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is alerting doctors to look out for a dangerous inflammatory syndrome in children in Europe and across 18 states that is possibly related to the COVID-19 virus.   

The syndrome is marked by fever, inflammation, poor function in one or more organs and symptoms similar to shock. The syndrome is rarely fatal, and most children recover both from the virus and the syndrome.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state health department is investigating about 110 cases in children, according to a report from CNN.

Reopening schools

Former HHS (Department of Health & Human Services) Secretary and ex-Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt joined Dave Noriega  and Debbie Dujanovic to offer his insight on the new syndrome and Utah’s battle against the pandemic.

“Are we going to be able to get our kids back to school come fall?” asked Dave.

“There’s a lot we don’t know yet about the virus. There’s a lot of scientific questions that we still don’t have the answer for,” Leavitt said. 

He added that people are learning to navigate a new risk with coronavirus, and they have different tolerance levels for risk.

Those who have underlying health conditions have a lower threshold for risk from COVID-19 than those who are healthier.

Leavitt said society is beginning to move from group behaviors, where most businesses close, most people stay at home and work from home because of government requirements, to more individual actions.

With more than 13,000 U.S. school districts, different decisions on when and how to reopen will be made in different states and in different areas of a single district, he said.

Utah prevailing against the beast

Given there has been more of a plateau and not a spike in COVID-19 cases during the two weeks since Gov. Gary Herbert moved the state from “red” to “orange” risk level, has the move been successful? Dave asked.

“In my opinion, it has been. I think we’re outperforming the disease models very well.

“What we still don’t know is whether those disease models have been too pessimistic . . . or whether or not it has simply been our social distancing, and we can all congratulate ourselves for having been able to minimize the impact of the virus,” he said.

Leavitt said a future uptick in COVID-19 cases is likely as social-distancing measures are relaxed.

He added each person has decide their own level of risk.

“For me, I still think it’s valuable to be social distancing. I am wearing a mask. . . but it’s because I’m getting close to that age where I have to be particularly concerned about it [coronavirus], but if you’re a 21-year-old, you might see it differently,” Leavitt said.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play

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Former HHS chief weighs in on frightening virus effects on children