For thousands of Kentucky children, the first day of school started with excitement, trepidation . . . and masks.
Yes, another start to school amid a flaring pandemic, only this time caused by many grown-ups’ willful disregard of the science. It’s not hard — if people won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, and many Kentuckians won’t, then we must wear masks indoors.
Gov. Andy Beshear may have just signed away his chance to win re-election, but he did the right thing. The Delta variant is making more people and more children sick. Voluntary masking, as adopted by roughly two-thirds of Kentucky school districts, will not work. Universal masking, as Kentucky did last spring for a successful end to the school year, will.
His decision was bolstered by a new study out of North Carolina of 100 school districts — and nearly 1 million students —by two pediatric specialists at Duke University.
“Although vaccination is the best way to prevent Covid-19, universal masking is a close second, and with masking in place, in-school learning is safe and more effective than remote instruction, regardless of community rates of infection,” the authors wrote.
Children under 12 cannot be vaccinated yet. So we have to find a way to protect them, and masks are the best way. To Kentucky adults who are not vaccinated and protest masks: You can’t have it both ways. Our children must bear the brunt of our selfishness, and masks are a relatively painless way to do that. The places where masks will not be required? Places that have high vaccination rates, where hospitals are not filling back up with COVID patients.
Yes, our children are anxious. But not because of masks. Because they are living in a pandemic that has been far too deadly, and all they can see and hear are adults screaming about freedom rather than doing all they can to stop the disease.
We know this. We did it last year. Fayette County did a tremendous job of keeping kids safe, healthy and learning, which is, in the end, the real goal.
That COVID-19 has become so politicized, and thus continues its reign is a huge disappointment and frustration.
Sen. Rand Paul revealed Wednesday that his wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences — which makes an antiviral drug used to treat covid-19 — on Feb. 26, 2020, before the threat from the coronavirus was fully understood by the public and before it was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
The disclosure, in a filing with the Senate, came 16 months after the 45-day reporting deadline set forth in the Stock Act, which is designed to combat insider trading.
Experts in corporate and securities law said the investment, and especially the delayed reporting of it, undermined trust in government and raised questions about whether the Kentucky Republican’s family had sought to profit from nonpublic information about the looming health emergency and plans by the U.S. government to combat it. Several senators sold large amounts of stocks in January or February of last year, prompting a handful of insider-trading probes. Most of those investigations concluded in the spring of 2020, according to notifications from the Justice Department to lawmakers under scrutiny.
“The senator ought to have an explanation for the trade and, more importantly, why it took him almost a year and a half to discover it from his wife,” said James D. Cox, a professor of law at Duke University.
Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for Paul, said the senator completed a reporting form for his wife’s investment last year but learned only recently, while preparing an annual disclosure, that the form had not been transmitted. He sought guidance from the Senate Ethics Committee, she said, and filed the supplemental report along with an annual disclosure Wednesday.
She also said Paul’s wife, Kelley, an author and former communications consultant, lost money on the investment, which she made with her own earnings. The purchase was of between $1,000 and $15,000 of stock in Gilead, which makes the antiviral drug known as remdesivir.
The drug was initially invented as a hepatitis C drug a decade ago and tested for possible use against other infectious diseases, such as Ebola. Remdesivir gained emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in May of last year and was administered to then-President Donald Trump when he was sick with covid-19 in October, before it gained full approval. Results of a WHO-sponsored study released later that month raised doubts about the drug’s effectiveness, prompting the agency to reverse itself and recommend against its use as a treatment for covid-19. The drug brought in $2.8 billion for Gilead last year.
Remdesivir was backed on Feb. 24, 2020 — two days before Kelley Paul’s purchase — by a WHO assistant director general, who described it as the only known drug that “may have real efficacy” in treating the novel virus.
The existence of public information causing Gilead’s stock to rise, said Joshua Mitts, an expert in securities law at Columbia University, doesn’t rule out the possibility that the senator gained additional knowledge in private. Paul is a member of the Senate health committee, which in January hosted Trump administration officials for a briefing on the coronavirus.
“Not everything about the product was necessarily clear from existing announcements,” Mitts said. “There could have been information about interest that certain individuals within administration may have had in the product, or that hospitals here in the U.S. were already loading up.”
Cooper said the senator attended no briefings on covid-19. Eight days after his wife invested in the company behind the antiviral drug thought to be effective against covid-19, Paul cast the lone vote in the Senate against $8.3 billion in emergency spending to combat the emerging outbreak.