Health officials see rapid rise in COVID-19 cases among teens and children

The Delta variant’s spread continues among Arizona’s kids and adolescents

Health+officials+and+many+school+districts+remain+at+odds+with+Gov.+Doug+Duceys+efforts+to+eliminate+mask+mandates+at+schools.

Al KIng (Flickr)

Health officials and many school districts remain at odds with Gov. Doug Ducey’s efforts to eliminate mask mandates at schools.

Ole Olafson, Reporter

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health is reporting an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases among children and teens.

This comes just days before Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s new legislation keeping schools from requiring masks goes into effect.

Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the medical director for MCDPH, told the Associated Press that now, more than 25 percent of COVID-19 cases in Maricopa County are among children.

Over two dozen school districts in Arizona have adopted mask mandates, but a new law would restrict their state funding if they continue to require that students wear facial coverings after Sept. 29.”

“There’s something about the delta strain that it affects children just as much as older people, and so what we’re seeing is a dramatic rise in children (catching COVID),” Sunenshine said.

Furthermore, one in six of those cases affecting children is among kids under age 12, who are not yet approved to receive the vaccine.

Over two dozen school districts in Arizona have adopted mask mandates, but a new law would restrict their state funding if they continue to require that students wear facial coverings after Sept. 29.

Sunenshine said schools without mask mandates are twice as likely to experience COVID-19 cases.

AP reports that Pima County chief medical officer Dr. Francisco Garcia is seeing a difference in infection rates in districts requiring masks in his county.

“Numerically (they) may have a lot of cases but proportionately are having a smaller percentage,” he said of districts with a mask mandate. “So we do believe that mask mandates in schools actually have an impact and it’s a really important and critical tool that our school districts and our schools have to be able to keep children and families safe.”

A similar situation exists in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott is fighting efforts by courts and school districts who seek to require students to wear masks. Two teachers at Elm Mott’s Connally Junior High, 41-year-old Natalia Chansler and 59-year-old David McCormick, both died of COVID-19 in the same week.