Earlier this week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine joined with the Ohio Children's Hospitals Association in a direct appeal to school superintendents to require masks for staff and students during the current surge of the coronavirus.
Data that support this appeal include:
- Since August 15, 2021, there have been 29,823 Ohio school-aged kids ages 5 to 17 with confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19.
- Cases among this age group increased 198 percent from the week of August 15th as compared to the week ending September 4.
- American Academy of Pediatrics says COVID-19 cases among children have increased 240 percent nationally since early July when the Delta variant began to surge. During that same period in Ohio, there has been a 2000 percent increase in cases among Ohio children.
- COVID-19 cases are increasing at nearly twice the rate among school-aged kids as compared to the rest of the population. This past week Ohio saw a 44 percent increase among school-aged children and only a 17 percent increase among the rest of the population.
- Over the two-week period ending September 4, 2021, there was an average of 909 cases per 100,000 school-aged Ohio kids versus 561 cases per 100,000 people comprising the rest of the population.
- The 16 days with the highest number of cases per day throughout the entire pandemic for kids aged 5 to 17 in Ohio have all been in the last 19 days. This includes every day except the three days of the Labor Day weekend.
- In Ohio school districts where masks are optional, among school-aged kids, there are both higher case rates per 100,000 at 945.7 and a greater week-over-week increase in cases. School districts where masks are optional have seen a 54 percent week-over-week increase compared to a 34 percent increase in school districts where masks are either required for all or required for some (usually K-8th grade).
The Governor says about 50% of Ohio schools do have some type of mask requirement. From the medical perspective, the issue is more about overloading Children's Hospitals. Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital had longer wait times and more visits than they had in the last five years. Akron Children's Hospital was seeing a steady influx of COVID patients when all Children's Hospitals are already dealing with an earlier than usual RSV season that's filling necessary beds. Doctors are very concerned about what will happen when cold and flu season hits.
To discuss these issues and give parents a better understanding of what's happening is Akron Children's Hospital Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert McGregor.