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Health experts recommend masks in school: ‘Delta variant is running rampant’

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 11:25 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Top pediatricians are recommending all kids older than two should wear a mask to school this fall. The American Academy of Pediatrics made the announcement just weeks before students are set to head back to the classroom. And it comes after our local school districts did away with mask requirements.

This is a hot topic on social media. We talked to a local infectious disease expert about what all this means.

“The issue is that the delta variant is running rampant throughout the country,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, infectious disease specialist with the Medical College of Georgia.

MacArthur has watched the number of COVID cases in Georgia rise about 60 percent just in the past week. And he says the delta variant is mostly responsible.

“What we’re seeing now, here locally, as well as throughout Georgia, is this new delta variant is infecting younger people,” he said.

People younger than 12 don’t have access to a COVID vaccine right now. With so many students not vaccinated the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending universal masking in schools to reduce spread.

“We all want to be safe...it’s really traumatic when one of your children comes down with COVID-19,” said MacArthur.

MacArthur says teenagers are at risk more than younger children. He recommends unvaccinated teens wear masks at school. And with the start of school just a few weeks away his best advice is get a shot now if you can.

“It’s safe, and it’s extremely effective, I know everybody’s heard that before, but now would be a really really good time to get vaccinated,” he said.

We reached out to Aiken, Richmond and Columbia County public schools to see if the news changes anything. Right now, masks are still optional in all three districts.

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