Florida In recent weeks, it became one of the foci of the covid-19 pandemic in the United States, with a sharp increase in infections, even among children and adolescents. And concern grows when the start of the school year is just a few days away.
The southeastern state of the country on Friday recorded its daily record of cases since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 (22,783), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As in other southern states, such as Louisiana, the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spread rapidly in Florida. among the unvaccinated population, which includes many minors.
The situation renewed the debate on the need to protect children and adolescents before returning to school and led to a political dispute between Republican governors and the president, Democrat Joe Biden.
Sara Medina is aware of this debate. On Thursday, he went with his 12-year-old son, Jayden Noel, to the FTX Arena in Miami, the pavilion of the local NBA team, turned into a vaccination for a day.
A vaccination center in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida. Should we vaccinate the boys?
“I wanted my son vaccinated because hopefully he’ll be back in school soon, and I just want to make sure he’s healthy,” said the 33-year-old mother.
Until recently, the impact of Covid-19 on those under 18 years of age, the population least exposed to severe forms of the disease, was hardly discussed.
But that is changing. Some 72,000 children and adolescents contracted the disease in the United States between July 22 and July 29, a figure five times higher than in late June, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.
Nearly 20,000 of those cases were in Florida, according to state data.
Greeting cards for those who get the covid vaccine at a hospital in Miami in May. Coronavirus cases are growing in children and adolescents. Photo: BLOO¡MBERG
The delta variant
Only 1% of minors infected by the coronavirus need to be hospitalized, clarifies Marcos Mestre, medical director of the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
But the contagion can cause complications for children and adolescents with health problems such as diabetes or being overweight, he explains.
Those complications led Florida to lead the number of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States, currently 143, ahead of Texas.
“It is true that children often do not get sick like adults with covid,” recalls Mobeen H. Rathore, director of the department of Infectious Diseases and Pediatric Immunology at the University of Florida.
“But they also get sick, they are also hospitalized, they also enter intensive care and also die of covid,” he remarks.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis refuses to require the use of a chinstrap in schools. Photo: AP
The expert recommends immunizing all children over 12 years of age, pending the United States authorizing vaccines against covid-19 for those under that age.
Chinstraps at school
Faced with the rebound in the pandemic, the CDC now recommend that students, teachers and other school employees wear masks, whether or not they are vaccinated, to stop infections.
His message contrasts with that of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed an executive order last week to prevent state schools from forcing their students to wear masks.
The Republican politician threatened to withdraw state funds from school districts that did not comply with his order, provoking resistance from several schools.
After days of uncertainty The Florida Department of Health on Friday authorized schools to require the use of face masks at your facilities.
But, in an attempt to make everyone happy, he also gave the students permission to ignore that obligation if their parents so requested.
The debate transcended the limits of Florida and even reached the White House. On Tuesday, Biden criticized DeSantis and other Republican governors who oppose masks in schools.
“If you are not going to help, get out of the way,” he told them during a press conference.
“If he messes with the rights in Florida, I get in his way,” DeSantis responded to the president on Wednesday.
Oblivious to the political dispute, Sara Medina is happy, above all, that her son can finally return to a face-to-face education after a “somewhat crazy” year.
Jayden Noel agrees with his mother. “Last year we had to stay home all the time and it was starting to get pretty boring,” he recalls.
Regarding the masks, he believes that “it is important” to wear them, “so that everyone is safe.”