ST. LOUIS – The loosening of mask mandates and a more contagious Delta variant are what health experts say is contributing to a rise in COVID-19 pediatric cases.
“Now what we’re seeing with the Delta variant is a striking increase in the number of kids who are testing positive for COVID,” said Dr. Marya Strand, Chief Medical Officer at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “We have a lot of pandemic fatigue, and masks aren’t mandated, people aren’t locked down in their homes.”
At Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, staffers gear up with their PPE to continue to care for the kids on Wednesday.
“With the mask mandates being lifted a little bit, um it creates for more diseases and germs just to be spread a little bit more easily,” said Rachel Waller, a nurse at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
At the beginning of the pandemic, kids only made up less than five percent of COVID-19 cases. Now they account for almost 20%.
According to the Missouri Department of Health, the number of cases in children ages 0 to 9 years old is 3,054. And in children aged 10 to 19, the number of cases is 13,637.
“It’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and the biggest thing we can really do right now is just wear our mask and do our part,” Waller said.
Dr. Strand said the hospital is not full of COVID-positive patients. Children who test positive for COVID make up seven to eight percent.
“I think the most important thing for the little kids, the kids under 12 who can’t be vaccinated, is that they wear a mask,” she said.