The CDC announced new guidance regarding the use of face masks this week. In parts of the country where coronavirus transmission rates are “substantial” or “high,” everyone should wear face coverings when they’re in indoor public spaces, the agency now advises.
Los Angeles County began requiring masks or other face coverings in indoor public settings two weeks ago. And California strongly recommended the same thing this week.
Return to school
Many health experts said moving forward with school reopening plans still makes sense, even though children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
“Children need to be in school,” said Julie Swann, a health systems engineer at North Carolina State University. “Those of us who have experienced last year, we know it.”
Swann recently published a report that found that without masking in schools, an additional 70% of children could be infected with the coronavirus within three months. Her research also shows that if masking is required in all schools, she still expects 40% of elementary school students to be infected within three months.
Despite those odds, she said, schools should reopen for the 2021-22 school year, with additional mitigation strategies in place.
“Schools and counties and states can also increase testing of their population and the community, which will also help slow the disease spread,” she said.
“If you weigh the risks and the benefits ... I think it’s worth sending kids to school as long as there are mitigation measures in place,” added Dr. Eric Ball, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Orange County Primary Care Network.
What do the new data show?