In Utah, the “Mom Code” is an unwritten agreement between parents to avoid testing their kids for COVID
As we enter the annual “season of endless sickness,” it’s important to remember that this year isn’t like any other typical year and yes, even your sick kid‘s little sniffles need to be taken 10x more seriously than usual. Someone should pass that little tidbit of news over to the parents in Utah who have reportedly created a “mom code,” which is an unwritten agreement to avoid testing their sick kids for COVID-19 in an effort to keep state numbers low and schools open.
According to ABC News, the concept is spreading — where else?! — in local parent Facebook groups. Heather Bremner, a parent at the Davis School District outside of Salt Lake City, says she became aware of the “mom code” last month.
“Moms are kind of deciding together that, ‘hey, we’re not going to have our kids tested for COVID,’” she said.
Per ABC News, some of the posts in these groups say things like: “Stay home, don’t get tested!” and “If your child shows COVID symptoms please keep them home but do not test.” While the Facebook groups in question are not public, Facebook comments on ABC’s story show people with the same “mom code” mindset.
Utah’s COVID numbers have skyrocketed in recent weeks, and just last week Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday was a “record day for Utah — but not a good one.”
While the advice to just keep sick kids home and avoid testing is, inarguably, a terrible idea, it likely stems from the many ways American workplaces and various political systems fail parents — particularly mothers — when it comes to adequate and affordable childcare. Even in a pandemic, parents are desperate to avoid another school shutdown because, in many cases, they have to work regardless.
Though the shutdown this spring presented endless logistical and childcare-related challenges for working parents, keeping the schools closed indisputably helped contain the spread of the virus. Once businesses and schools re-opened, cases spiked nationwide and are also currently on the rise as we head into flu season.
So while we can all agree that every option available to parents right now DEEPLY sucks, intentionally not testing your sick children for COVID during a pandemic is an awful, terrible thing to do. ABC News reports that intensive care units in Utah are almost at capacity, and hospital administrators warned the governor that they would soon need to ration care.
“Up until now, our hospitals have been able to provide good care to all COVID and non-COVID patients who need it,” Gov. Herbert said on Friday. “But today we stand on the brink. If Utahans do not take serious steps to limit group gatherings and wear masks, our healthcare providers will not have the ability to provide quality care for everyone who needs it.”
Dr. Larry Corey, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, tells ABC News that avoiding testing will not help keep schools open.
“Frequent testing allows rapid identification of children with COVID and their restriction from school and sports activities, and this containment actually reduces the rapid spread,” Corey said. “Frequent testing can actually start to contain outbreaks and move to opening more schools and keeping them open.”