Mask mandates for children are not backed by data

- WASHINGTON EXAMINER - SEP 1, 2021 - Zachary Faria -

With the Biden administration trying to prevent states from banning mask mandates in schools, the debate around these requirements for children is due for some much-needed perspective. A look at the data offers exactly that.

There are roughly 73 million children in the United States. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,649 children have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Aug. 21. As of Sep. 1, 400 have died from the disease.

Rounding the total number of children to 73 million would mean 0.0049% of children in the U.S. have been hospitalized from COVID-19, and 0.0005% have died from it.

Every death and hospitalization is a tragedy. But this is about keeping perspective. Those numbers are from the past 18 months COVID-19 has been with us. Meanwhile, the 2019-20 flu season lasted only seven months, from October 2019 to April 2020. The CDC estimated 434 children died from the flu during that period, with more than 52,000 hospitalizations.

Even if you want to use the 2018-19 flu season to avoid overlap with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC paints a similar picture: It estimated 480 flu deaths among children during that period, with 46,000 hospitalizations.

COVID-19, mercifully, is simply not as deadly for children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, preliminary data from 45 states show that between 0.00%-0.03% of child COVID-19 cases resulted in death.

When you combine these numbers with the CDC study that found mask mandates for students — along with hybrid models, social distancing, and classroom barriers — did not have a statistically significant benefit in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in schools, the insistence that we force students to jump through these hoops for their own protection makes no sense.

The hysterics by those who insist students must be masked is just that: hysterics. It is a suggestion that either they have allowed their fear of COVID-19 to overwhelm their ability to analyze data or that they think mandatory masking in schools should become standard policy moving forward. If they mean the latter, they should say so. Otherwise, there is no argument: Schools should return to their 2019 normality.


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