The Daily Escape:
Sunset and sunflowers, central UT – August 2021 photo by Jon Hafen
Schools are back in session and once again, it’s in person, after a confusing on-or-off, virtual or physical experience last year. Almost 5 million children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that about 204,000 kids tested positive for Covid last week. And for the week ending August 26, children accounted for 22.4% of reported weekly cases. Covid cases are rising nearly everywhere in America, and our schools aren’t exempt. From USA Today:
“At least 1,000 schools across 35 states have closed for in-person learning because of COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year, according to Burbio, a New York-based data service that is tracking K-12 school reopening trends.”
This increasing number of school closures comes amid a battle over mask mandates in schools and the surge in pediatric Covid cases. Did it occur to you that the people bitching about mask mandates and refusing to get the vaccine are THE SAME ONES who are up to a million about exiting Afghanistan?
Republicans are saying that Biden has botched the Covid response. But we know that many Republican governors are actively pursuing policies that are increasing infections. Some of them are preventing schools from adopting mask policies. Dr. Eric Feigl Ding, an epidemiologist, tweeted this:
Moreover, the CDC says that hospitalization rates were 10 times higher among unvaccinated than among fully vaccinated adolescents, and increased 4 times as fast in August in states with low vs. high vaccination rates:
Would Republican politicians willingly sabotage their state’s Covid vaccine program for political gain? Before you say, “that’s ridiculous”, look at this note sent to people in Manatee County FL:
This was put out by a local MAGA group, whose leaders have been trained by national organizers on how to disrupt school board meetings.
Wrongo thinks that masks are a convenient target of opportunity for America’s angry and outraged. Being an angry, outraged White person pays big political dividends. Chances are that if you’re an angry American, you’re White and middle class. You are backed by an enormous right-wing media ecosystem that’s egging you on. You are part of a political party ready to overturn our current system of government on your behalf.
Many in law enforcement will police you selectively. You can disrupt school board meetings, scream at children in masks, and probably not even get your ass thrown out of the meeting. The maskholes are ascendant.
And so, America’s war with ourselves continues.
The CDC’s masking recommendation for vaccinated adults changes with local transmission rates. If high, all people should mask indoors. If low, there’s no need. But the CDC hasn’t set similar metrics for children and masks in schools.
So, should kids under 12 stay masked until they have an approved vaccine? What if that takes years? What if it’s approved soon, but only 35% of them get vaccinated, just like among the 12–15-year-olds who have had access to vaccines for months?
It’s possible that even by the end of the school year, most children will still be unvaccinated. Should the masks come off then, or remain in place indefinitely? Any school board that sets a mask mandate should also be setting in place a mask off plan. Otherwise, their angry and distrustful citizens will gain even more power.
Consider that in the UK, the government doesn’t require masks for children in schools. It isn’t clear whether they will advise that kids should get vaccinated. Britain has experts just like we do, and they’re looking at the same scientific data. They care about children’s health the same way we do, and yet, they have come to different policy decisions.
Should we, as the UK does, accept that there will be more cases in children, recognizing that disease severity for the vast majority of kids is low? Should we accept that there will be a not-insignificant number of Covid-related deaths among our kids, along with some who have long-term health compromises, and move our focus to vaccinating, not masking our kids?
At this point, the people who are anti-vaccine, anti-mask and/or who deny the deadly seriousness of Covid have demonstrated that they cannot be reasoned with. They love that they can be ignorant assholes, while still having plenty of political muscle.
Time and energy are as limited as ICU beds. Time and energy should be reserved for people who have at least some common sense and common decency, not wasted on the angry and outraged.
OK, but what about the kids?