SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all students over the age of two should wear a face mask when school starts in August.
In Springfield, President and CEO of CoxHealth, Steve Edwards, says COVID-19 hospitalizations are hitting new records and he expects the number to double in one month. As the Delta variant is affecting more young people he is worried about the kids who have to return back to school.
“While the mortality is low, dramatically lower for children, we don’t know what we may be doing to affect them for the rest of their life,” said Edwards. “I can’t help to think that vaccines can stop that. We know that viruses tend to have a reaction in the body sometimes a decade later.”
“Now what we’re seeing is younger children, younger adults are getting the infection and bringing it to their families,” said Dr. Fatma Levent with AdventHealth for Children. “When they get it, it’s usually mild. However, they can get hospitalized, they can get pneumonia and other complications.”
Edwards hopes Springfield Public Schools will follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice.
“We don’t know what we’re encountering, and it seems like a lot to gamble on a child’s wellbeing, just for the sake of not masking,” said Edwards. “They’re very certain you need another layer of protection, and that is masking. So they’re advocating masking for students two years and up. Unfortunately, that will be a politicized decision. But if we followed science, it would be really simple. Mask, and vaccinate.”
However, Mayor Ken McClure says vaccines can only be encouraged at this point.
“Mandatory vaccinations are going to be a very touching issue, particularly as you get into publically funded institutions,” said McClure. “I know our school district is strongly encouraging that vaccinations occur, I think they’ll be doing that as students come back in the fall, to urge their parents to do that, but I have every confidence that the SPS district will take the appropriate steps to make sure students are as safe as can be.”