The CDC’s anti-science COVID-19 guidance is helping schools mask children again

Joan S. Reed

There is no end to the anti-science COVID-19 diktats being handed down in some pockets of the country. The worst of those are the ones still being imposed on children.

Last week, San Diego announced that it would once again impose mask mandates on children. Children who do not want to wear masks simply “don’t have to go to school at all, other than via Zoom,” according to school board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne.

Students who are already enrolled in summer school should “just not return” if they don’t want to be forced to wear masks. Whitehurst-Payne is ostensibly in charge of education for nearly 100,000 students, and she is telling students not to show up to school.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County, Kentucky, is reimposing “universal masking” in county facilities and buses. That includes mandates for Jefferson County Public Schools, the largest school system in Kentucky and the 30th largest school system in the country. Jefferson County, home to Louisville, has over 95,000 students in its public school system.

They are doing this because President Joe Biden’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they should. As of May 27, the agency still claimed that all children over the age of 2 should be wearing masks on public transportation, and it still recommended that children should be masked if community levels of spread get too high. That is the justification Whitehurst-Payne and Jefferson County cited to reimpose their mandates.

The CDC and its director, Rochelle Walensky, are making these recommendations in defiance of every piece of data we have about children and COVID-19. Amid all the confusion and contradictory information about COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, it was clear early on that children were at no serious risk from the virus. The data from the CDC itself have consistently shown that children were at more risk from the flu than COVID-19.

Nearly 55 million children had been infected with COVID-19 during the first two years of the pandemic, according to the CDC’s estimates from April. Using CDC data on hospitalizations, we could determine that 0.14% of children who had COVID-19 were hospitalized. Even that number is higher than expected because many of the children who were hospitalized were brought in for other concerns and happened to test positive for COVID-19 when they were admitted. Using the CDC’s data on deaths, roughly 0.001% of children who had COVID-19 died.

The CDC has been a disaster throughout the pandemic, but its guidance is actively harming children who are simply trying to return to school as normal after two years of restrictions. Forcing children to wear masks does practically nothing to reduce the minimal risk they face, but it does negatively affect their mental health and social development. The CDC is urging schools to burden children for no real public health benefits, and more school districts are gleefully agreeing to do just that.

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