Infectious Disease

Pediatric COVID-19 cases are increasing in areas where school masks are not required

September 24, 2021

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According to an MMWR report released Friday, US counties with no school mask requirement rose nearly twice as fast pediatric COVID-19 cases as counties with mask requirements in the 2 weeks after schools reopened.

Another new MMWR report found that schools in two of Arizona’s most populous counties were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks if they did not have a mask requirement at the start of school, compared to similar schools that required masks.

Of 999 of the 1,041 eligible K-12 public schools in Maricopa and Pima counties that were included in the study, 210 (21%) had an early mask requirement, and 309 (30.9%) had a late mask requirement, the median 15 days after the start of school was waived (interquartile range = 9-17 days) and 480 (48%) had no mask requirement at all.

From July 15 to August 31, there were 191 school-associated outbreaks, 16 of them in schools with early mask compulsory, 62 in schools with late mask compulsory and 113 in schools without mask compulsory.

A similar, albeit nationwide, report found that in the two weeks after school started, the average change in pediatric COVID-19 case rates in counties with school mask compulsory (16.32 per 100,000 / day) was lower compared to counties with no school mask requirements (34 , 85 cases per 100,000 / day).

Another statewide report looked at COVID-19-related school closings and found that despite an estimated 1,801 school closings in the school year to date, more than 96% of public schools have stayed open for full face-to-face learning. Most of the school closings were in the south, most in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas, while Pennsylvania had the most closings in the east, Ohio in the Midwest, and Nevada in the west.

Each of the studies promoted vaccines for eligible students, the wearing of masks, and tests. Public school students over the age of 12 can get the COVID-19 vaccine, and Pfizer said earlier this week that its vaccine produced a “robust response” for even younger children in test groups. The company estimates its vaccine will be approved by the FDA by the end of October.

References:

Budzyn SE et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021; doi: 10.15585 / mmwr.mm7039e3.

Jehn M. et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021; doi: 10.15585 / mmwr.mm7039e1_w.

Parks SE, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021; doi: 10.15585 / mmwr.mm7039e2_w.

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