With classrooms reopening, the delta surge is a test for American schools

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Coronavirus pandemic update

Rise COVID-19 cases The worrying increase in the number of children in hospitals has forced some American schools to reconsider the long-term hope of returning to the classroom after the Labor Day holiday.

An analysis of existing government data by the Financial Times shows that in August, the number of Covid hospitalizations in 10 U.S. states hit a record high, while the number of positive cases of children was close to the peak in January.These numbers emphasize Delta variant Still a serious threat, especially for people who have not been vaccinated.

“Last month, we saw the highest hospitalization rate for children. Pandemic,” said Sonja Rasmussen, a pediatrician at the University of Florida.

As students from other countries in the northern hemisphere return to the classroom for the first time in more than a year, the UK, Europe and elsewhere will pay close attention to how the United States manages the start of the new semester.

Although the number of children infected with Covid in hospitals in the United States has increased, it still accounts for only a small portion of the overall total.However, growth coincided with Covid total hospital record In several states this summer, including Florida, Mississippi and Georgia.

Rasmussen said that due to strict masks and social distancing regulations, children were less likely to be exposed to the virus before, “but now everyone has gone back, and some school districts no longer require masks… We have seen a large number of hospitalizations. Increase”.

The school that reopened in August set a worrying precedent for schools that are ready to welcome students after Labor Day. Last week, two school districts in Florida announced temporary closures in response to the shortage of personnel caused by the new crown pneumonia.

“I realize the inconvenience caused by school closures to some people, and I apologize for that,” said Jim Norton, head of the Bay Area School. “However, I really feel that it is necessary to develop a stopgap measure to prevent the virus from spreading more widely.”

A judge ruled last month that Florida school districts can legally require students to wear masks, saying that Governor Ron DeSantis has exceeded his authority in prohibiting such regulations. © Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP

In Tennessee, Hamilton County schools implemented a “post-Labor Day suspension”, closing the school for two days after Monday’s federal holiday to allow 45,000 students and 2,800 faculty and staff time to monitor for potential Covid symptoms after long weekend celebrations.

At the same time, the safe return to school is being disrupted Politicization Debate about US coronavirus measures. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children over the age of two wear masks in class, regardless of the vaccination status, some Republican lawmakers are firmly opposed.

In July, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order prohibiting school boards from issuing mask orders, arguing that parents should make decisions for their children.

Last week, a Florida judge rejected the order after the parents filed a lawsuit. Covid surges in the stateLast month, the number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations all hit record highs, with a slight decline in the past few weeks.

The line chart shows the 7-day rolling average of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United States since the beginning of 2020. As states set new records, Covid cases continue to rise. For an interactive version, please visit ft.com/covid19

As the struggle between some conservative governors and educators escalated sharply, the U.S. Department of Education launched a survey Enter five Republican-led states, including Utah and Oklahoma, which prohibit or restrict the requirement to wear masks in schools.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said: “It is totally unacceptable for national leaders to place politics above the health and education of the students they sworn to serve.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said schools should be able to safely open full-time while wearing a mask Increase vaccinationShe said: “A place where people work together is better than a place where the governor or the person in charge acts politically rather than in the best interests of children and educators.”

The head of the second largest teachers union in the United States supports mandatory vaccination of teachers, and New York City and California have already requested this measure. Although 64% of American adults are fully vaccinated, the vaccination rate for children lags behind.

Weekly histogram of new children's cases, thousands of children's Covid cases increase

According to the CDC, adolescents 12 years of age and older can be vaccinated against Covid, but only 38% of children aged 12 to 15 and 47% of children aged 16 to 17 are fully vaccinated.

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 will have to wait until later this year to get the injection. Pfizer plans to submit its test data to US regulators in September.

The former president and physician of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Sara Goza, said that because children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, children have a higher proportion of coronavirus infections. In the week ending August 26, children accounted for 22.4% of reported cases, while the average rate since the beginning of the pandemic was 14.8%, and the number of hospitalizations was 2.3%. According to the data Prepared by the organization.

She said: “At this time we are seeing more and more children infected with Covid, so we will see more children being hospitalized and more children critically ill due to the large number.” Among children, since the beginning of this year, The proportion of cases leading to hospitalization has been very low (less than 1%).

The latest coronavirus news

Pay attention to the on-site report and analysis of the British “Financial Times” on the global epidemic and the rapidly evolving economic crisis here.

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