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Utah doctors warn how fast COVID could spread in classrooms this fall

Posted at 7:41 AM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 09:41:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Supporters of the Salt Lake County Council’s decision Thursday to overturn the health department’s mask order for elementary students are celebrating. While opponents are expressing disappointment and worry.

Hundreds were in overflow seating Thursday, cheering when the vote became final. Nearly the entire crowd opposed requiring students to mask up while in school.

READ: Mixed reactions from parents, medical experts after decision to overturn school mask order

READ: Study shows the main reasons why Utahns aren't getting vaccinated

While a group of medical experts, education leaders and elected officials praised Dr. Angela Dunn for her courage to suggest the health order. They worry infection rates will skyrocket in the next few weeks.

Utah doctors are emphasizing just how fast COVID-19, especially the Delta Variant, could spread in schools once everyone is back in the classroom. Those at Primary Children's say the virus we're dealing with this fall is different than last year because of the mutation. The case numbers we saw a year ago is the baseline for the number of cases that could happen in the coming weeks.

“The Delta Variant has been an enormous game changer for children. it has lead to a very high number of children being diagnosed around the country, it's twice as transmissible,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia at University of Utah Health & Primary Children's Hospital.

Doctor Pavia said, nationally, 16,000 children were hospitalized for COVID last week, as 94,000 cases in children were diagnosed.