I unintentionally caused harm to the Native American community

by Brielle Kennington

When COVID 19 hit Coconino County, there were so many uncertainties.
The supplies the media and government told us would keep us safe were nowhere to be found. Store shelves were bare. There were no masks, hand sanitizer, even hand soap. I couldn’t even find elastic in the stores or online.
That is why I sewed over 300 masks. The hospital gave me surgical fabric that was used to sterilize instruments for surgery. I didn’t have elastic so I sewed ties out of the fabric.
Some of the masks went to the hospital to cover their N95 masks since they did not have enough to change them out as often as they needed to. Some masks went to the National Guard who had been sent to the reservation due to the overwhelming impact COVID had on the community. Some child sized masks were sent to the foster care system. Some of the masks went directly to the reservation community.
I spent hours at my sewing machine. I sewed masks every day. I thought the masks would keep people safe. That is what we were told by medical professionals and our political leaders.
COVID continued to ravage the Native American community despite our efforts. Out of 404 COVID deaths in Coconino County, 288 were Native American. 71% of deaths were Native American people.
When I started reading studies about mask effectiveness and statistics on areas with mask mandates vs. no masks, I felt sick. Masks weren’t helping, in fact, many people were sick because they thought they were protected and they were not. My masks had given people a false sense of security, sometimes with dire consequences. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/11/confronting-notion-face-masks-reduce-covid-dose

The confusion around mask efficacy is understandable. Logically, using layered mitigation strategies would lower the spread. When we look at the numbers, this is not the case. According to Southern Medical Journal, “There was no reduction in per-population daily mortality, hospital bed, ICU bed, or ventilator occupancy of COVID-19-positive patients attributable to the implementation of a mask-wearing mandate.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8395971/
Masking children not only is ineffective in stopping the spread of COVID, https://covidreason.substack.com/p/masking-children-is-an-ineffective it is causing them harm. https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3021/rr-6

If safety is truly what your goal is, it is time to stop mandating masking of children. Stress the importance of staying home until the person is symptom free for 24 hours. Have students and teachers hand sanitize before and after eating lunch. Teach proper nutrition and exercise. These are the things that will keep children healthy. If there are parents that feel better having their children in masks, that is their decision. Giving parents the opportunity to choose based on their families’ needs would benefit the students, and school district.
I ask that removing the mask mandate be added to the agenda for the next school board meeting. Many parents I talk to are unhappy with the mask mandate. When I encourage them to email the board, their response is always the same. “The board never listens.” I would hope you find it troubling that this is a recurring sentiment regarding your service as a board. 
I have included more resources below regarding the safety of our children. I hope you take the time to review them.

  1. “Our data indicate that children are at far greater risk of critical illness from influenza than from COVID-19.” Source (JAMA Network)
  2. “Children and young people remain at low risk from COVID-19 mortality.” Source (OSF PrePrint)
  3. “…children are not the main drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.” Source (CMAJ Group)
  4. Children rarely transmit infection to others and more frequently have an asymptomatic or mild course compared to adults. Source (Journal of Medical Virology)
  5. Asymptomatic spread in long-exposure, household settings was less than 1%. Source (JAMANetwork)
  6. “…could not provide evidence for a relevant asymptomatic spread… in childcare facilities… in a low nor a high prevalence setting.” Source (MedRxIV)
  7. “For adults living with children there is no evidence of an increased risk of severe COVID outcomes” Source (MedRxIV)
  8. Increased household exposure to kids was associated w/ a smaller risk of testing positive or hospitalization w/ Covid Source (MedRxIV)
  9. “…we did not note any association between mask use and risk…” Source (The Lancet)
  10. “Evidence regarding the effectiveness of non-medical face masks for the prevention of COVID-19 is scarce.” Source (ECDC)
  11. “…people must not touch their masks, must change their single-use masks frequently or wash them regularly…” Source (BMJ)
  12. The effectiveness of high-grade masks for flue was linked to correct usage. Source (NIH)
  13. Children have a lower tolerance to wearing masks and may fail to use them properly. Source (ECDC)
  14. “…household use of face masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective for controlling seasonal respiratory disease.” Source (EID)
  15. “…it’s difficult for some autistic people to wear masks because of sensitivity issues,” Source (OAR)
  16. Deaf and Disabled children can feel isolated from other children and adults who are wearing masks. Source (The Guardian)
  17. “Extended mask-wearing by the general population could lead to relevant effects and consequences in many medical fields.” Source (MDPI)
  18. “Psychosocial, biological, and immunological risks for children and pupils…” Source (BMJ)
  19. School masks: face coverings could damage children’s speech development, warn scientists. Source (The Telegraph)
  20. “…wearing masks throughout the day can hinder language and socio-emotional development, particularly for younger children.” Source (AAP)
  21. A database tracking mask mandates has seen no clear benefit to masking children Source (Qualtrics Dashboard)
  22. “…the data shows that districts’ face covering policies do not impact the spread of the virus,” Source (FL Education Board)
  23. Delta does not seem to change the game No difference in risk of hospitalisation between Delta variant and Alpha Source (MedRxIV)
  24. The viral dynamics of the Delta variant are similar to those of Alpha. Source (MedRxIV)
  25. Studies in favor of school masking have been extremely flawed North Carolina study without a control group.Source (WSJ)
  26. CDC (MMWR) studies have numerous flaws. Source (Thread)
Scroll to Top