Delta Variant ‘More Apt To Make Kids Sick,’ Pediatric COVID-19 Cases In Louisiana On The Rise


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards could issue a statewide mask mandate as early as Monday impacting back-to-school plans for the state’s 70 districts, most of which have decided not to require face coverings for the coming school year. In some parts of the state, classes start as early as next week.

The news came during a press conference Friday where Edwards and State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter discussed the state’s rising number of pediatric COVID-19 cases and the importance of following key public health measures to help prevent further spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.

“At this point, it’s not whether we vaccinate or mask, we have to do both,” Edwards said.

Schools can assist with both measures, by encouraging or requiring students to mask up or get the COVID-19 vaccine. Absent a mandate from the governor, individual districts set their own mask policies, while vaccine requirements are determined by the state.

New Orleans Public Schools appears to be the only district in the state requiring face coverings inside school buildings and has also launched a robust vaccination campaign. While the percentage of students and teachers who are fully vaccinated is not publicly known, the district said they plan to release that information in the coming weeks.

Vaccination rates remain low among the youngest eligible cohort. Just 12 percent of children between 12 and 17 years old are currently vaccinated. At the same time, the number of young people contracting the coronavirus is growing.

“We’re seeing more children sick with COVID now with delta than we have at any other point in this pandemic,” Kanter said Friday.

There are several reasons why delta may be “more apt to make kids sick,” Kanter said. For one, it’s more transmissible, spreading easily between the unvaccinated and can also be spread by people who are fully vaccinated.

The delta variant is also more powerful. People who contract the delta variant have up to 1,000 times more virus in their body than those who contracted earlier variants, Kanter said.

In the last two days, Kanter said there have been seven new cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) among children in Louisiana — the largest number in the shortest period of time, at any point in the pandemic.

While the cause of the syndrome is unknown, “many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I fear that we’re going to see more of these [cases] in the coming weeks,” Kanter said.

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