Pediatrician says parents should assume kids will get COVID-19 without mask rules

Three weeks into the school year without a mask mandate in place, a Georgia pediatrician shares what she’s seeing at her practice.
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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MONROE, Ga. (WJRT) - As many Mid-Michigan schools return to the classroom next week, county health departments are mixed on the decision of whether to put a mask mandate in place.

The overall concern is how quickly the more contagious COVID-19 delta variant can spread among students in close quarters.

Mandates are sparking protests in several communities and pitting parents against health care workers. A mother in Genesee County is expected to be criminally charged Friday for threatening health department employees.

But what happens in schools when there are no mask mandates?

A pediatrician who lives and works in Georgia. Her 6-year-old daughter attends a district requiring students to wear a mask. The county she works in doesn’t have any COVID-19 rules this school year.

“What I can tell you, is it’s basically like every school is having a chickenpox party,” Dr. Andrea Hill said. “And if your child attends a school without masks and without other interventions, you need to assume they are going to get COVID.”

Dr. Hill is a pediatrician in Monroe, Ga., just outside of Atlanta.

She said she’s treated more kids with COVID-19 in the last few weeks, since they went back to school, than she has in the last 17 months of the pandemic.

“I’m running all day between patients,” she said. “I mean, I literally feel it in my thighs and so do all my staff. We are seeing an impossible number of patients.”

Hill said about half of the 25,000 patients her practice serves attend the local school district, which has zero measures in place to protect students right now.

“From an ill standpoint, yes they are more sick; but the biggest problem really, is just the pure volume that’s happening with this wave,” Hill said.

She’s currently working more than 12-hour days to make sure each child is seen and treated.

“I mean it’s hard, I don’t know what else to say,” Hill said.

Because, she said many COVID-positive patients are struggling through complications and other serious health conditions expected to linger for some time.

“Chronic fatigue, we’ve seen heart damage, we’ve seen lung damage,” Hill said.

Knowing what she does, Hill is grateful that her daughter’s school conducts tests weekly, requires masks and distances students. Since they returned to school Aug. 5, she said they’ve kept the delta variant down to just one positive case per week

“I feel like we’re just watching this wave -- I consider it like the Florida/Texas wave,” Hill said. “And we’re just watching it rise north, right? So you all are next in line I guess.”

She’s seen a number of her young patients pass COVID-19 to their parents because of how contagious the delta variant is. That’s another reason why she’s urging everyone to get vaccinated.

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