By Jay Gallé

On Tuesday the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reported three additional pediatric COVID deaths.

“Two of the recent deaths were in children under 5 years old, a group that is too young to be vaccinated. The third death was in a child between the ages of 5 and 17. The Louisiana Department of Health did not release additional details,” according to the Nola.com.

In a prepared statement, state health officer, Dr. Joseph Kanter said “Every life lost is a tragedy. That we have lost 21 children in our state to COVID-19, many of them not yet eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, is unbearable,” Nola.com reported.

Critics and skeptics of New Orleans Mayor, Latoya Cantrell, and the LDH reacted on Twitter, suggesting the release of the three pediatric deaths on Tuesday were intended to deflect away from the poor optics of the mayor violating her indoor mask mandate last weekend at a Carnival ball.  Other posters questioned the veracity of the numbers.

The LIJ has been tracking the daily numbers published by the LDH since June of 2020.  And we believe the scrutiny and skepticism is warranted.

Multiple One-Day Childhood COVID Deaths Unprecedented

It is unprecedented to have three pediatric deaths in one day; before Tuesday, it had never happened before.

As far back as June of 2020, when we began tracking the state’s daily COVID numbers, there had never been multiple pediatric deaths reported in one day.  Furthermore, there have been only two weeks, during the 19 months we’ve been tracking, which have seen two deaths in one week, but never more than one death in one day. Three deaths in one day are highly unusual.

Without more detailed public information and greater transparency, public trust of government agencies wanes. So, when an anomaly like three pediatric deaths in one day is reported, there is reasonable skepticism.

Especially when “two weeks to flatten the curve” turned to two months, and “you cannot get COVID if you’re vaccinated,” which turned into, “if you’re vaccinated it will prevent serious illness and death.”

As reported on Wednesday by the LDH, nearly half (47%) of all COVID-related deaths in Louisiana between February 10th – 16th, have been among those who were vaccinated.

This skepticism of the public is compounded by the lack of distinctions in the data released by the state health department.

Superficial Data

The LIJ has previously reported on the lack of transparency and clarity in the LDH numbers.  In an article discussing the reinstatement of indoor masking in Orleans parish, we highlighted this issue of superficial data.

Among the issues, for instance, are hospitalizations. Every time there’s a new variant, we hear a steady stream of concern by our public health officials of hospitals being overwhelmed. So, we reached out to the LDH for “clarification on hospitalizations, asking if those admissions include patients in the hospital because of COVID, and those with COVID.”

In an email response from Kevin Litten, a “communication strategist” with the Bureau of Media and Communications (BMAC), he told us “any hospital patient who is COVID positive upon admission is counted as a COVID hospitalization.”  This means there is no distinction between those admitted because of COVID, and those who happened to test positive with COVID during the admission process after arriving at the hospital because of a heart attack, or to repair a broken bone, for example.

It’s not just the lack of information on who’s in the hospital for what; there’s no available data separating the number of asymptomatic (no symptoms), and symptomatic (with symptoms) COVID-positive cases.

This is extremely important, because as we pointed out in our report last month, a December 2020 BMJ article, “found no evidence of asymptomatic transmission.” Further support of no asymptomatic spread came from the WHO in June of 2020 which states Covid-19 asymptomatic transmission is “very rare.” Which means, if you test positive for the virus, but you’re not sick (showing no symptoms), there’s no reason for you to stay home from work, and no reason to keep your child out of school.

The same is true for the issue of dying with COVID, versus those who died because of COVID, and can go hand-in-hand with COVID patients dying with comorbidities and underling conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.  

This is supported by a table released in December of 2020, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which revealed “94% of [COVID] deaths mention more than one [underlying health] condition.”

“The overwhelming number of deaths—over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities, so really, these are people who were unwell to begin with,” said CDC director, Rochelle Walensky (found at 3:09 mark in video) during an interview with “Good Morning America” last month.

But this information is not released with each COVID-19 death, and has a significant impact on how the virus is portrayed, and thus, how the public perceives the threat of the virus.

As we said in our previous reporting, “it’s apparent, the simple reliance on cases, hospitalizations and deaths to guide decision-making without any distinction between symptoms/no symptoms, “with” COVID/“because” of COVID, clouds the picture, ignores science and data, and leads to ineffective public health policy.” It also leaves the public in the dark, forcing them to guess and speculate, which manifests itself as skepticism.

In his prepared statement to the media, Kanter did not say of those three unfortunate deaths that “they were healthy kids with no underlying conditions;” that’s because they were most likely unhealthy kids with underlying conditions.  Kanter’s lack of mention of this critical information is a tacit admission that these children did indeed have underlying conditions.

But it’s not just Kanter’s omission, it’s the 99.999% survival rate for healthy kids in Louisiana which supports this likelihood. It also raises reasonable and legitimate questions over the necessity of pediatric vaccination with a statistical 100% survival rate of this cohort.

Every death is tragic, especially when it’s a child; but the constant attempt to keep the populace fearful as a means to coerce them to inject their child with an experimental drug is wrong, and must stop.