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Health & Science

More Ohio Children Are Becoming Ill With COVID

 Child ill with COVID-19
A quarter of new COVID-19 cases are in children younger than 18. With the coronavirus spreading through the unvaccinated population, including children who are not yet eligible for vaccination, children's hospitals in Ohio say they expect even more of an increase in pediatric cases.

Nearly 10,000 Ohio kids tested positive for COVID last week, according to the state’s coronavirus website. As of right now, 70 kids statewide are hospitalized with the virus. And with the effects of Labor Day gatherings still unknown at this point, children's hospitals in Ohio say they are bracing for the situation to worsen.

Dr. Patty Manning Courtney with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says she’s heard people say there’s no need to get vaccines or wear masks because the COVID virus needs to dealt with similar to the cold or flu—things that people get exposed to, catch and recover. But she says COVID is different.

“As adults, it feels irresponsible to go down that line of thinking and just sacrifice some children and some individuals who get very, very sick," Manning Courtney said.

Manning Courtney says unlike colds and flu, COVID could have long-term consequences, especially for growing kids. A quarter of new COVID cases in Ohio are among kids under 18.

 Ohio Children's Hospital Association graphic on the effectiveness of masks
Ohio Children's Hospital Association
Ohio Children's Hospital Association graphic on the effectiveness of masks.

Yet many of Ohio’s K-12 schools are not requiring students and staff to wear masks. Some schools have been forced to shut down in recent days because of COVID-19 spread. Others have canceled certain activities or made changes in policies. Ohio's pediatric doctors are strongly urging all schools to require masking as a way to make sure in-person learning can continue.

The doctors point to studies that show masks are an effective barrier against COVID-19. Grace Wakulchik, the president of Akron Children’s Hospital, says there is proof that masking keeps kids in classrooms.

“The four schools in Summit County that have required masks since the beginning of school, only 23 have been quarantined. That’s 23 out of the 1070 students and faculty that have been quarantined," Wakulchik said.

Leaders at Ohio’s hospitals for kids say they’ve been talking to state officials about students wearing masks to prevent COVID in schools. But Gov. Mike DeWine and legislative leaders have repeatedly said they won’t mandate masks.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.