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More Ohio Children Are Becoming Ill With COVID

Nationwide Childrens Hospital

Nearly 10,000 Ohio kids tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to the state’s coronavirus website. As of now, 70 kids statewide are hospitalized with the virus.

With the effects of Labor Day gatherings still unknown at this point, leaders of children's hospitals in Ohio said they are bracing for the situation to worsen.

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

Unlike colds and flu, COVID could have long-term consequences, especially for growing kids, she said. A quarter of new COVID cases in Ohio are among kids under 18-years-old.

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 due to the 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, said 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 (students) have been quarantined. That’s 23 out of the 1,070 students and faculty that have been quarantined," Wakulchik said.

Leaders at Ohio’s hospitals for kids said 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.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.