Dear editor,

(As written to the Wausau School Board.)

I have been a cardiac surgeon in Wausau for almost 30 years. My commitment to health care delivery in our region has been the mission of the last three decades of my career.

Fernando “Fritz” Riveron, MD

I have had great respect for the Wausau school system and have three children who have benefited from its great quality; one having graduated from Harvard, another with a Masters from Carnegie Mellon, and a third who is a general
surgeon.

I am sensitive to the importance of your decision regarding how to open schools, but am deeply concerned that you’re being swayed by disinformation and distorted data. The information on Covid-19 is not easily gleaned from the reported data. This is my analysis using data taken directly from the Wisconsin Health Department website. I would be happy to discuss these data points with you at your discretion.

-Total positive tests: 59,000; 63 percent in the Greater Milwaukee area (three counties)
-Deaths: 990; 67 percent are in the Greater Milwaukee area; 40 percent of deaths have been nursing home patients.
-If you test positive, the chance of dying (all ages) is 1.68 percent
-If you are younger than 60, your mortality if you have a positive test, is 0.23 percent (most school teachers are younger than 60 years old).
-If you are younger than 20 and have a positive Covid test, your chance of dying in Wisconsin thus far is zero.

Epidemiologists tell us that the actual rate of infection is probably at least five times higher because of asymptomatic cases.

If you put that into the denominator as epidemiologists suggest, the data for Wisconsin looks like this:

-Total mortality from Covid-19 is 0.33 percent, including all ages.
-Mortality for those younger than age 60: 0.05 percent
-Mortality for those younger than age 20 thus far is zero.

According to the CDC, the data for children is clear that their susceptibility and their death rate from Covid-19 is indeed less than for influenza. “So far in this pandemic deaths of children are less than in each of the last five flu seasons.” (July 23 CDC “Importance of Opening Schools”)

I would strongly encourage you to use your respected status to educate parents and teachers with this data. Our community is sorely in need of knowing the truth – which is extremely reassuring for teachers, students and their families.

Fear has been stoked in our debate to an irrational and unscientific level. Please consider giving parents the real data and a choice based on civil liberty. Let parents take responsibility for the decision as to how to have their children return to class; virtually, hybrid or in person. Give them their Democratic choice.

Council members, search your conscience as you consider the fate of the most vulnerable; the single-parent families, the special needs kids, those that depend on school lunches or guidance and counseling. As a father and a grandfather, I beseech you to consider science as your lodestar. Children should never be used as political pawns; they are our sacred trust to care and nurture.

With deep respect for your honest deliberation,

Fernando “Fritz” Riveron MD of Wausau

Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.