Letter to the Editor: Regarding Kiessling Letter on Covid Risks

~ Submitted by Dr. Astrid Kruse DVM

Dr. Kiessling crowed last fall that the pandemic was over in Bedford. She has claimed that masks were unnecessary in reducing the spread of a respiratory virus and that vaccination and ventilation are enough. Now her recent letter tells us not to worry about the rampant Covid infections in Bedford schools.

Kids do get sick—hopefully, they bounce right back like my second grader (right in time for the parent they infected to be debilitated). However, the potential for longer-term repercussions, such as diabetes and long Covid, can’t be dismissed. Our pediatrician assured us that in 4-12 months our sixth-grader might stop being unusually tired and having intermittent brain fog. And let’s hope there isn’t a nasty surprise waiting for us- there was a marked increase in coronary heart disease in survivors of the 1918 flu pandemic. We must not forget that grievously there are some children that have died, thankfully few and none in Bedford to date. To paraphrase Stalin: “one death is a tragedy, a thousand a statistic”. My heart breaks for each family.

In addition, we need to be aware of the repercussions of sick contagious children on their families, their teachers, and communities. There are parents battling autoimmune diseases (more than you’d think) and cancer, and grandparents in high-risk age groups. There are essential workers like teachers that deserve our consideration. Workers are out taking care of their sick kids, then out with Covid themselves. This is a financial burden on families and a roadblock to workplace productivity. Not enough cashiers? Backlog when you order food? You can’t get a vet appointment for your dog’s diarrhea? Allowing a virus-free reign is part of the reason.

The solution to the pandemic is not a lockdown, nor masking forever and forced vaccination, but it also not entering a state of magical thinking and pretending that everything is just fine. Unfortunately, herd immunity isn’t an option either, since neither Covid-19 infection nor vaccination engenders long-term immunity. There will be reinfections, and there will be more variants (hopefully with less severe illness, but there is zero guarantee).

The Board of Health’s mission statement is “to promote healthy people, healthy families… through compassionate care, education and disease prevention”. I hope you see the irony in Dr. Kiessling’s letter sharing the week with Holly Chessman’s account of fighting long Covid. Dr. Kiessling’s term is up in 2023.

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Lisa Cimino
May 19, 2022 10:19 pm

I’m glad Dr. Kiessling is speaking truth about masks. She understands the science.

Catherine Van Praagh
May 19, 2022 7:50 pm

Thank you Dr. Kruse!

Myra Fournier
May 19, 2022 11:20 am

From the Boston Globe today:
“A coalition of public health leaders, infectious disease doctors, and community organizers called on the Baker administration Wednesday to reinstitute mask mandates in public schools and on transportation, amid rising numbers of people infected and hospitalized for COVID-19 in Massachusetts.
The group is also urging the state’s Department of Public Health to issue an “immediate advisory” recommending use of masks inside public spaces and for people to avoid large gatherings until the current COVID surge subsides.”

Ann Kiessling
May 19, 2022 9:54 am

As with all infectious diseases, the most important tool to protect vulnerable people from COVID19 is not “vaccination and ventilation”, but testing their contacts to know in real time who is contagious. By summer 2020, data accumulated by the CDC revealed the most vulnerable were the elderly and folks with other health issues, not young children nor healthy adults. By summer 2021, accumulated data revealed SARS2/COVID19 is similar to other upper respiratory viruses like influenza in that: (1) vaccination decreases disease severity, especially for vulnerable people, but does not stop virus spread, (2) community mask mandates had a small effect on virus spread, (3) there was an increasing need for more effective anti-SARS2 medications to help prevent serious COVID19 disease, and (4) testing remains the most effective method of protecting the vulnerable. By spring 2022, accumulated data have revealed: (1) the severe restrictions imposed on day cares, schools, and routine health care in 2020 and 2021 may have had more dire overall health consequences to young children, the education of our youth, and routine maintenance of chronic diseases than the SARS2 pandemic itself, (2) newly available medications are profoundly effective in quickly decreasing viral burden, and (3) quarantining infected, but not sick, individuals needs to be re-considered. A robust review of ALL public health consequences of the COVID19 actions taken to date in Bedford is urgently needed.

Joseph R Piantedosi
May 19, 2022 9:36 am

I read all of Dr. Ann Kiesslings well written letters which have made numerous references to factual evidence about this virus to help us all understand more about it. She is also a well respected scientist with numerous accomplishments. Contrary to the comments in this letter about her I would like to thank Dr. Kiessling for her efforts.

Robert Kalantari
May 19, 2022 8:57 am

I agree with you, “The solution to the pandemic is not a lockdown, nor masking forever and forced vaccination”, but I disagree with your statement that Dr. Kiessling explanation of data and facts about the current Covid situation being under control is magical thinking. I also disagree with you that herd immunity isn’t an option, this is scientifically false. Herd immunity is the best and most effective defense against this and many other viruses. I thank all board of health members who try to educate us about healthy living, especially those who do their research and present their views with data and facts.  

Myra Fournier
May 19, 2022 10:34 am

Robert – I believe Dr. Kruse meant that herd immunity isn’t an option in this pandemic, not in general. Dr. Fauci and other experts have expressed the same opinion, that we will not achieve herd immunity. It’s definitely tough to know what the right – most effective? – course of action is to take regarding COVID prevention. However, since numbers are rising again, it seems that unmasking and group mingling might have contributed significantly. I believe that Dr. Kiessling had suggested earlier that Bedford should loosen restrictions because neighboring towns had. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem to have been a wise recommendation. Now Dr. Kiessling suggests we needn’t worry about the upswing in numbers. I don’t understand her reasoning when long COVID is such a horror. Of course, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion about, and interpretation of facts, and to express them. It just feels that Dr. Kiessling’s interpretation has been wrong so far.

Christina Kim
May 19, 2022 11:04 am

Can you clarify what you mean by “herd immunity isn’t an option, this is scientifically false”? What data do you have to support this?

Barry Cohen
May 19, 2022 1:49 am

Thank you Dr Kruse for your letter to the editor.

Myra Fournier
May 19, 2022 1:18 am

Thank you, Dr. Kruse, for expressing what all rational people feel. Wishing you and your family good health.

Dereck Blackburn
May 18, 2022 10:29 pm

Thank you for your letter Dr Kruse. We need more of this common sense.

Edward Gray
May 18, 2022 10:00 pm


Johnny Vaught
May 18, 2022 9:41 pm


Heather Randhahn
May 18, 2022 9:38 pm

Thank you- well stated and much appreciated.

Matthew Parker Derman
May 18, 2022 9:08 pm

Thank you Dr. Kruse!