School has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult challenges for families during the coronavirus pandemic. But in an effort to keep schools open, some parents in Utah have allegedly implemented a so-called "mom code," agreeing to not test their children for COVID-19 in order to keep case numbers low.
While the "mom code" is unwritten, parents in Davis County who favor testing reportedly believe it is a coordinated effort among parents who will go to such extreme lengths to keep schools, and sports, running as usual, according to KUTV. "Parents are saying, 'let’s not test,' just so they don’t have to worry about shutting down the sports teams. I think that it is absolutely a disgrace," Genevra Prothero, who has children in Davis County schools, told KUTV
According to screenshots sent to the news outlet, one parent wrote that they "think getting tested is selfish" because it causes "mass hysteria," while another reportedly said testing is "unnecessary" because it gives "the government and school district officials the power to continue to control us." Other posts, according to ABC4, suggested, "If your child shows COVID symptoms please keep them home but do not test."
Utah, like much of the country, has seen an uptick in cases in recent weeks. According to the Utah Department of Health, cases in the state have reached more than 106,000 with 574 deaths. The state has a 17% positivity rate, according to CovidActNow.org. Johns Hopkins states that this relatively high number — the 12th highest in the United States — may indicate insufficient testing, as it suggests that Utah currently only tests the sickest patients who seek medical treatment.
According to Utah's Department of Health, Davis County represents the third most affected of the state's 29 counties with 8,172 cases, 370 hospitalizations, and 41 deaths. Gov. Gary Herbert has urged Utahans to be led by science and not politics, and recently implemented new mask mandates in counties considered high and moderate risk, which was protested at the capital in Salt Lake City by the Proud Boys, among others.
While research has indicated that children are, fortunately, less affected by the novel coronavirus than the general population, more than 792,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And while death is rare — only 121 between February and the end of July — 78% were children of color, highlighting the fact that the virus disproportionately affects minority communities (a fact seen reflected in numbers of infection, hospitalization, and death among adults).
A recent Gallup Poll shows that parents are torn about how worried they are that their children will contract COVID-19 at school. While 45% reported they are "very worried," 13% said they are "not too worried" and 9% reported that they are "not at all worried."
Feelings of worry are valid. Reports of parents knowingly sending infected children to school in Wisconsin and Massachusetts have caused anger and alarm far beyond their districts, leaving already worried parents even more concerned that their fellow moms and dads aren't taking COVID seriously enough.
In the last seven days alone in Utah, the state has seen 10,488 new cases. Hospital ICU units are exceeding capacity. If parents refuse testing and contact tracing, this problem will be far larger and more devastating than school closures and a canceled football season.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.