(Trends Wide) — The escalation of COVID-19 cases, and in particular the increasing proportion in children, is causing many health experts to worry about the outlook as the school year progresses across the country.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci said there shouldn’t be a big increase “if we get it right.”
There are certain simple things that are essential, he told Trends Wide on Tuesday. “We have to have a mask used in the school system in addition to surrounding children with vaccinated people,” said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “That is the solution”.
Schools, particularly in the south, began their new year in August and many districts, particularly those without mask measures, saw an explosion of cases. And doctors and experts warn that it could happen again when students in much of the rest of the country return to school after Labor Day weekend, unless strong measures are taken to keep the virus under control.
Fauci stressed that masks and vaccines in schools are crucial, even though some local leaders are rejecting such measures.
Officials believe the federal government has limitations in requiring vaccines broadly, but President Joe Biden is expected to deliver a major speech later this week on the next phase of the pandemic, which will include components related to schools, private companies and the requirements for federal employees, two sources familiar with the speech told Trends Wide.
Ahead of the speech, data from Tuesday’s Gallup poll showed more Americans now disagree than agree with Biden and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) communicating a plan. of clear action in response to covid-19.
The speech also comes as the impact of the pandemic on schools becomes clearer.
Children now account for 26.8% of weekly COVID-19 cases, according to new data released Tuesday. Over two weeks, from August 19 to September 2, there was a 10% increase in the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in children since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, 13 school employees have died from COVID-19 since Aug. 16, the school district and local teachers union told Trends Wide. The 13 – three teachers, a security monitor, a cafeteria worker and seven school bus drivers – were not vaccinated, they said.
“I think this underscores the great tragedy that we see happening across the United States,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told Trends Wide’s Erin Burnett. “Although in my community, 98% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, there is still a specific delay for people who represent ethnic minorities in Miami-Dade.”
Carvalho said the 13 people who died were black and were not vaccinated, according to their families.
Since vaccination mandates are illegal in Florida, Carvalho said the best thing to do is offer incentives for teachers to get fully vaccinated, including a $ 275 stipend to any employee who presents proof of vaccination.
Reinforcements for hospitals
Lagging vaccination rates and increasing numbers of cases are putting pressure on health care systems in many states.
In Kentucky, hospitals are facing critical staffing shortages and are on the brink of the need for ICU beds, Governor Andy Beshear said Tuesday, forcing the closure of some operating rooms to create ICU centers and more beds. to address the influx of covid-19 patients.
The state has stepped in to help by providing COVID-19 testing through third-party providers that are installed outside of hospitals, freeing up hospital emergency room staff and physicians to prioritize other health care needs for the community, he said. Beshear.
The governor said he also requested shock teams from FEMA and has deployed a shock team of nurses to St. Claire Regional Medical Center, which has been overwhelmed treating the influx of COVID-19 patients.
Less than half of Kentucky’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus, according to CDC data.
Reinforcements are also on the way for healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in Idaho, Arkansas and Alabama.
Each state will have a 20-person US Army Northern (ARNORTH) team that includes nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians. Six teams have already been deployed, with three teams in Louisiana, two in Mississippi and one in Alabama.
“This is the first time that Defense Department medical resources have been deployed to support both Idaho and Arkansas during the pandemic,” ARNORTH Commander Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson said in the statement. “We are proud that we are being asked to support our local, state and federal partners there, and in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, in this government-wide response.”
The deployment of the booster vaccines may be at the end of September
The best protection against hospitalizations, experts have emphasized, is vaccination.
Data from local health departments in Utah, Virginia, and Seattle’s King County suggest that unvaccinated people are at least four times, and up to nine times, more likely than vaccinated people to test positive for covid. -19, and that gap has widened in recent weeks.
About 62.5% of the total US population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 53.2% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. Those numbers are not yet at the point that experts say they need to be to protect the majority of Americans.
In August, the FDA authorized an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for certain immunosuppressed people. And as the effort to vaccinate the entire population continues, officials are now preparing for the deployment of booster doses for a larger population.
The White House is expected to launch its booster vaccine plan the week of September 20, at which point up to 5.2 million people may be eligible to receive their third dose.
The program expects residents to receive the third dose eight months after receiving the second of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines, although the timing may vary.
On Sunday, for example, Fauci predicted Moderna could launch its booster dose later than Pfizer.
The boosters don’t indicate anything is wrong with the first two doses, Fauci said Tuesday. Rather, the third dose can simply be part of a complete vaccine regimen.
Also, it is unclear when the timing will be for a second dose of the single-dose J&J vaccine, which was received by more than 14 million people, according to the CDC.
“That could be two doses for a J&J, but for mRNA, we know from studies that are already underway in Israel now, that when the degree of protection against infections and even serious diseases drops to a certain precarious level, when you give the person that third impulse drastically increases the level of protection. Even more than before the reinforcement, it raises and exceeds the level of protection, “said Fauci.
Jacqueline Howard, Virginia Langmaid, Kaitlan Collins, Elizabeth Stuart, Carma Hassan, and Trends Wide’s Leslie Perrot and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.