Both of the following statements are on the CDC website on pages updated within the past week and a half:
1: COVID-19 Cases are Extremely High. Avoid Events and Gatherings. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are extremely high across the United States. To decrease your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, CDC recommends that you do not gather with people who do not live with you at this time. Attending events and gatherings increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html)
2: Evidence suggests that many K-12 schools that have strictly implemented mitigation strategies have been able to safely open for in-person instruction and remain open. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/operation-strategy.html)
Well which is it? I don't understand why, given certain criteria and and mitigation strategies are satisfied, it is supposed be safe to send my younger child into a public classroom most of the day, every day, yet it is absolutely not safe to see my other child who just left home shortly before the pandemic, even rigorously using all the same mitigation strategies, and with community spread being equal. It just doesn't seem to add up.
To better frame my question, first consider my family still at home: Either my wife or I (not both) buys groceries once a week, at the time we believe is the least busy hour of the week. We carefully select and always use PPE based on the best information available. My son is in virtual school, and I work from home, except for rare occasions where it is necessary to go to work to perform my job, and then I follow strict social distancing and all the recommended Covid PPE and safety guidelines. We do get curbside pickup or go through the drive through a couple times a week. Otherwise, we never leave the house except for walks where we will not even be likely to encounter other pedestrians, or for essential doctor visits, or oddball one-off situations, like when we had to have a tire repair. Unfortunately this is against a backdrop of COVID-19 not being taken seriously in the surrounding community, with many acting as though there were no pandemic. Of course our strategies do really minimize encountering such people, but we can't reduce it to zero.
Now, I don't have a good feel as to whether we have reduced our risk 70%, 90%, 98%, or even to near zero compared to someone who does not take COVID-19 seriously. Do the experts have a good idea to what the risk would be to people with our lifestyle, or are we still at a point where there is still not enough research or information so that anyone really knows the answer to that question? If there is a good, evidence based estimate on how much the risk is reduced for a family like ours, what would that be?
And what is really the risk seeing family members you do not live with, given masks, social distancing, and other guidelines are adhered to? My personal prediction would be that it is less risky than buying groceries, but I would trust evidence that can be defended much more than my gut, and it really bothers me that an organization which is supposed to represent the gold standard for dispensing evidence based guidance makes both of those statements above without offering compelling justification as to why they should both be true.