Masks compulsory for all in schools, vaccines for eligible

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If you’ve been to a big box store lately, you know what time of year it is.

Back to school.

These words are creating anxiety again this year, as COVID-19 cases – fueled by the aggressive delta variant – reach levels not seen since teachers presided over virtual classrooms in the dead of winter.

New cases are on average more than 60,000 per day and about 2,000 people per week in this country die from COVID. In this latest wave of COVID, our country Fourth, we see sick children in these numbers: almost 4.2 million children tested positive for the virus, about 72,000 last week alone. This is almost double the number from the previous week.

And although children generally fare better than adults who catch COVID, their hospitalization rates are on the rise. Children unfortunately die of COVID – July 358 to 28. Doctors in several states have said they are seeing children sicker than in the past, including some who land in intensive care with tubes down their throats.

This is not reassuring because we are stocking up on No. 2 pencils and we are preparing to send our children, many of whom are too young to be vaccinated, to overcrowded neighborhoods.

Unions fight vaccination mandates

Especially not when transmission rates are at frightening levels in almost every pocket in the country. And when some states have banned mask warrants, meaning that as school officials prepare to reopen the doors, they can’t demand that faces be covered – even if it’s a scientifically proven way to reduce transmission. And certainly not when two of the country’s largest teachers’ unions are hesitant to a vaccine requirement, even when most of the people who have died – about 99% – are not vaccinated.

I asked Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, if parents should feel safe going back to school, given the circumstances. He told me on Friday, in a meeting with the USA TODAY Editorial Board, that he thinks our children should be in school, that another year of distance learning would be detrimental.

But he says the adults in their lives need to step up.

“Anyone who is near a child in what should be the protected environment of a school, if he is eligible to be vaccinated, he must be vaccinated,” he said.

With the highly contagious delta variant continuing to spread, it is important that everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear masks in indoor public places, he said. Masks and vaccines will slow the spread.

“Vaccinating people around children is not that difficult for me”,he said. “It is common sense. But forcing everyone to wear a mask, you are going to be repelled, hence the anti-mask warrants that you see in some states. “

Anti-mask warrants don’t make sense

You know what else is not easy? Virtual school. Bored and scared school-aged children who feared they would not learn well (or enough). Who missed his friends. Who hated – still hates – masks but will continue to wear them so that they can have something close to normal.

The moment of truth:We are failing COVID at exactly the wrong time.

Dr.Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, chats with USA TODAY Editor-in-Chief Kristen DelGuzzi in a remote meeting with the USA TODAY Editorial Board .

In Arkansas, where cases are increasing in children, Governor Asa Hutchinson wants to let schools demand masks, so he’s trying to change a mask ban he enacted this year, saying: “in hindsight, I wish it hadn’t become law.”

In Arizona, where Gov. Doug Ducey signed a statewide ban on mask warrants, some schools and districts openly flout and forcing their students to cover their faces on campus.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened with withholding state money schools that require masks.

Dr Fauci finds these positions confusing.

“I can’t understand how you can say that I’m going to impose that you don’t allow a person to mandate a mask – in other words the anti-mandate mandate,” Fauci said. “To me, it doesn’t make sense not to want to protect children.

“Someone really has to explain this to me, because I don’t understand.”

Neither do I.

Kristen DelGuzzi is the opinion writer for USA TODAY. Follow her on Twitter: @kristendel



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