Experts have outlined the safest ways to keep schools open and free from epidemics, CNN medical analyst Dr Leana Wen said on Monday.
If students are to be in a room together before they can all be vaccinated, it is crucial that there is proper testing, ventilation and masking – a measure that has become surprisingly controversial, she said.
However, cases of Covid-19 and hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks, especially among unvaccinated people in the South. And although health experts have pointed out that masking is one way to control the spread, some governors have sought to ban mask warrants in schools.
“It shouldn’t be for months. It shouldn’t be forever, but right now when people come back masking is a reasonable public health measure, ”former Assistant Health Secretary Brett Giroir said on Monday. “I support it and I encourage parents to encourage their children to do so. “
“Only 23 states and New York City actually report the number of children hospitalized,” Giroir told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. That means the state-reported numbers are unknown in places like Texas and Florida, where children’s hospitals are seeing an increase in the number of cases, he added.
“Talking about flying blind, compared to children, we need better data, and that has to be the basis for action,” he added.
And because testing has declined, the United States may not be fully informed about the extent of the infection in the general population, he said. Giroir has estimated that the United States could soon reach an actual number of around 500,000 cases per day.
“This means that 50 to 100,000 Americans will have a long Covid – which means for months they will be in pain, they will be tired, they will have brain fog, as their memory centers in their brains shrink. We know that, ”says Giroir.
The percentage of the U.S. population eligible to have started their vaccination against the virus has reached 70%, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, with the more transmissible Delta variant spreading – and growing concerns over possible diminished immune protection – senior officials in the Biden administration are reaching an agreement that most Americans should be given a booster eight months later. have been fully vaccinated, according to familiar sources. with the debates.
Hospitals are feeling the brunt of the rise
Forty states are seeing an increase in the average number of new cases from the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And the impact can be seen in strained health systems.
Cases in Mississippi continued to rise, with the latest data from the state’s health department showing 7,839 new cases and 52 new deaths in the three days to August 15.
In response to the record number of hospitalizations for Covid-19, the University of Mississippi Medical Center said a second field hospital was being built in one of its parking lots.
The field hospital will have intensive care capacity and care for up to 32 patients at a time, the hospital said in a statement.
In Texas, following a review of the rising death toll, the State Department of Health Services submitted a request for five mortuary trailers as part of normal readiness to make them available for support local jurisdictions in case they need it, ”according to DSHS Press Officer Douglas Loveday.
Texas is one of the states that disagree on mask mandates. Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning school districts from requiring masks, prompting a backlash from educators and local leaders.
“The governor is looking at the polls, he’s not even talking to his own medical experts anymore,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “He looks at the polls on what Republican primary voters want to hear and works from there. “
Texas and Florida, another state embroiled in a mask mandate controversy, lead the country in pediatric hospital admissions.
The latest HHS data released on Monday shows 239 children in Texas are currently hospitalized with Covid-19. Texas has passed Florida, which has 170 children with coronavirus hospitalized.
How quickly does immunity decrease?
Meanwhile, Pfizer and BioNTech said on Monday that they had submitted initial data to the United States Food and Drug Administration to support the use of a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The dose elicited a significantly higher antibody response against the original strain of coronavirus and the Delta and Beta variants, compared to what was seen in people who received two doses, they said. The booster dose appeared to be just as protective against the Delta and Beta variants as it was against the original coronavirus.
The data is good news, Wen said, but not entirely surprising.
“That is actually, however, not answering the key question that remains for us right now,” Wen said. “The key question is, how quickly does immunity decline after the first two doses? “
For now, the Biden administration’s plan, which is still in the works, would be to give third injections from mid-September to the end of September, a source told CNN, pending clearance. of the FDA.
Since healthcare workers and nursing home patients were the first to receive their injections, the administration currently expects them to be the first to receive boosters as well.
Last week, the FDA cleared third doses for some immunocompromised people, and the CDC almost immediately recommended giving those doses.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Virginia Langmaid, Kaitlan Collins, Adrienne Broaddus, Deanna Hackney, Raja Razek, and Rosa Flores contributed to this report.