LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (NewsNation Now) — As some school districts decide whether to institute mask mandates, doctors in children’s hospitals across the south say this is not the COVID-19 we think we know.
“For the first year of the pandemic, it was, ‘Gee, kids are relatively spared,’” Dr. Jessica Snowden said. She’s the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “That’s great. We’ve got to get out of that mindset and realize it’s everybody’s job right now to protect kids.”
She’s seen numbers spike. Weeks ago there was an average of five kids with COVID-19 in her hospital’s two campuses. As of Wednesday, it’s 27. Thirteen are in the ICU and seven are on ventilators
Snowden says Americans need to learn about the differences the delta variant is causing.
“It is so much more contagious,” she said. “Everybody who is unvaccinated, whether it’s because they’ve chosen not to be or because they’re not old enough yet, all of them are at high risk right now from getting sick.”
Around 1,500 children are hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins said on NewsNation Prime.
It’s a trend that’s seen across the south. In nearby Tennessee at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, numbers have doubled in a week.
“It is very concerning,” Dr. Nick Hysmith said. “I think this is what we were fearful of last week and you just see these numbers go up.”
It’s not stopping some Tennessee lawmakers from trying to rein in local governments’ attempts to control the spread.
All 73 Tennessee House Republicans signaled their support on Wednesday for a special session to limit the authority of local officials to make rules aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, as lawmakers fumed over mask requirements in a handful of school districts.
From treatment to recovery to prevention, Snowden said masks will help ease this surge among America’s children.
“It is a small thing that we’re asking people to do to protect kids,” she said. “But I think there is no question from a scientific perspective that kids should be wearing masks in school.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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