Just as students are returning to school, doctors in South Florida have noticed an alarming increase in pediatric COVID cases.
In June, pediatricians at Broward County’s Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital treated little over 20 children with COVID, and this number jumped to 240 children in July. However, they reached 160 cases just in the first ten days of August. The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami-Dade County has seen a similar surge.
Doctors believe this is because of the Delta variant, the main coronavirus mutation in the United States that mostly affects people between 25 and 44 but can also infect and spread through young children. Florida had the second-highest number of pediatric COVID-19 cases in the US, after California.
The Delta variant is associated with increased viral loads and higher transmissibility, so more people who aren’t protected by a vaccine develop more severe symptoms. We need to keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved vaccines for children under the age of 12, so they’re not eligible.
It’s especially concerning since many kids are starting school or they’re in daycares. In fact, many schools and daycare centers have had to send kids and employees home to minimize the risk of transmission. This causes problems for parents that have already returned to the office, but as any daycare injury lawyer would agree, childcare providers are legally obligated to take these safety measures. Both parents and childcare providers are striving to find a solution.
In the United States, childcare has always been more of a guessing game. Parents do everything they can to provide for their children’s needs with the resources they have at their disposal. At the same time, childcare workers struggle to make ends meet on insecure wages. Many are worried that the centers where they work will close since it’s their only source of income, and they have their own children to support.
Parents are trying to adapt, but right now, this means revising their plans every day as the events unfold. Some have understanding employers who let them go back to working from home, but that’s not a long-term solution.
With kids going back to school and Florida’s governor banning mandatory mask use in schools, millions of children across the state will cram into buses, classrooms, cafeterias, and other indoor areas, increasing the risk that the most transmissible strain of the virus will spread among unvaccinated hosts.
Doctors are urging parents to vaccinate eligible children, give them effective face masks and take an active role in making them feel more comfortable with prevention measures.
Six Florida school districts, including Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest school district with 334,000 students, have already made masks mandatory on school grounds and buses, despite this measure being in violation of Governor’s Ron DeSantis executive order.
In response, the Florida Board of Education is threatening to withhold state funding to school districts that defy the order. However, President Joe Biden has stepped in to reassure school superintendents that if governors like DeSantis follow through on their threats, federal funds will be made available to ensure school employees can receive their salaries.