Dan O’Donnell looks at the science the CDC is choosing to ignore as it recommends that students mask up this fall.
July 28, 2021
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell
If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught, it is the necessity of believing in science, of following the science; and now the science is leading unmistakably to an unavoidable conclusion: Children should not be masked in school.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ignored 17 months’ worth of data to feed into the growing (and unwarranted) panic over the Delta Variant of COVID-19 and again recommend the wearing of masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
“In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the delta variant, and protect others,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said while announcing the new guidelines. “This includes schools.”
Everyone, she added, should be masked inside schools this fall, “including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.”
This guidance is not only unsupported by the available scientific evidence; it is flatly ridiculous.
In the 17 months since the pandemic began last March, there have been fewer than 300 COVID-related deaths among those 17 and under. With a total of 56 million children in the United States, that amounts to one death out of every 200,000 children. By way of comparison, over the past 8 years, the flu has killed an average of 456 children per year.
For children at least, COVID-19 has quite literally been a mild flu season. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that about 4.13 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. That’s a death rate of 0.007 percent.
In addition to deaths, hospitalizations and total cases are rare among children. They account for just 14 percent of all COVID cases in the US and just 1.3 percent to 3.6 percent of all hospitalizations. Fewer than 2 percent–and possibly as few as 0.1 percent–of children who contracted COVID-19 had to be hospitalized.
Quite simply, children are not contracting COVID, getting severely ill from COVID or dying from COVID. And fortunately for teachers and support staff, the science has proven that children are not spreaders of COVID-19, either.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that young children are not only at low risk for developing COVID-19 but they also don’t play a significant role in the spread of it while attending school. This was corroborated by a wide-scale study in Israel published in PLOS Computational Biology, which found that children are half as susceptible to COVID as adults.
Moreover, a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases shows that children are unlikely to be the source of COVID-19 in their homes. Since the home has been the most common place for COVID to be spread, it would stand to reason children aren’t spreading the disease at school, either. Multiple studies have proven this, as schools have neither been hotbeds for COVID outbreaks nor contributed to community spread.
Kids aren’t spreading COVID at home and they’re not spreading it at school. And not only does requiring them to wear masks make no sense from an efficacy standpoint; it might also harm them.
A massive study of nearly 26,000 schoolchildren in Germany showed that approximately 68 percent had problems while wearing masks in school.
“These included irritability (60 percent), headache (53 percent), difficulty concentrating (50 percent), less happiness (49 percent), reluctance to go to school/kindergarten (44 percent), malaise (42 percent) impaired learning (38 percent) and drowsiness or fatigue (37 percent),” researchers concluded.
A research letter published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association for Pediatrics found that wearing masks caused children to inhale too much carbon dioxide.
“This carbon dioxide mixes with fresh air and elevates the carbon dioxide content of inhaled air under the mask,” researchers concluded, “and this was more pronounced in this study for younger children. The normal CO2 limit is 0.04 percent. The upper safety limit is 0.2 percent. Children wearing masks were getting sometimes as much as 1.6 percent.”
This is plainly unsafe, just as the justifications for mask-wearing are unscientific. And in order to believe in science, and trust science, the science must be followed. And on the issue of forcing children to wear masks in schools, the science is settled.