CDC director says kids should stay in classrooms despite rise in COVID-19 cases

Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Walensky argued for continuing to send children back to classrooms at a Thursday press briefing.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Walensky argued for continuing to send children back to classrooms at a Thursday press briefing. Photo credit Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images
By , KNX 1070 Newsradio

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended sending kids back to classrooms in a Thursday press conference. She said that schools are among the safer places for children even as the highly contagious Delta variant has caused an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among children.

Listen to your favorite News/Talk station now on Audacy

Walensky acknowledged the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among children. She said that the rate of hospitalizations is “similar to prior surges” but would not give a percentage of cases that result in hospitalizations for children.

Podcast Episode
Coronavirus Daily
Vaccine boosters earlier than we thought. Plus, will COVID-19 cancel school again?
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

Instead she said, “the absolute number of cases is so high, the absolute number of children is coming in high.”

The CDC confirmed there was an 11 percent increase in daily deaths, with Wednesday's death count at 864.

Despite this increase in cases among children, Walensky emphasized the importance of “[getting] our children safely back in the classroom.” Dr. John Schwartzberg at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health agreed. He told KNX that many of the cases requiring students to quarantine have been mild or asymptomatic.

“Right now, I think it’s press on. There will be cases, unfortunately, but the benefits of having children in school at this point, clearly in my mind, outweigh the risks,” he said.

Walensky confirmed that the CDC is not looking to update school guidance, as, according to her, most of the areas and school districts that are seeing surges are failing to adhere to the current guidelines.

She cited the recent study on cases in Los Angeles County, saying “We saw the power of layered prevention.” Walensky said getting all those eligible for vaccines vaccinated, wearing masks, improved ventilation and screening will help keep children safe in schools. In addition, Walensky said schools are places where children who are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine can be surrounded by a shield of vaccinated people.

The Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval for those age 16 and older and has emergency approval for those age 12 and older, which includes many students.

And, according to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, more Americans are getting vaccinated.

Zients said there have been 12.5 million first shots in arms so far in August. According to the White House’s figures, that is two million more first shots than in July. Zients called this progress on vaccinations the “best line of defense” against COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

The rise in first shots may be related to the growing number of vaccination mandates. 800 colleges and universities, more than 200 health care employers and large and small businesses have all adopted vaccination requirements, according to Zients.

Walensky said of adopting guidelines like universal mask-wearing at schools, “This is not forever. This is for now”

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram