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Florida school mask controversy continues as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in Florida, a debate is raging over requiring masks in colleges.

An emergency rule in Florida will enable dad and mom to make use of vouchers to switch youngsters out of public colleges that require masks, however not everybody agrees with the transfer. Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is threatening to withhold funding from districts that require masks.

“The decision to try to withdraw funds or withhold funds from school districts who are trying to make decisions in the best interest of public safety is really disturbing to me,” mentioned Sarah Leonardi, a school board member in Broward County, the place opponents of masks have been vocal.

“I don’t disagree that it should be a parent’s choice, but no one’s choice for a sense of personal liberty, not based in science, in fact, should not impede on a right of a student or employee to stay healthy and alive,” Leonardi added.

COVID-19 cases in youngsters are rising nationwide, with greater than 71,000 reported final week, an 86% bounce from the week earlier than. Eight states have measures banning districts from requiring masks in colleges, however in Arkansas, a choose briefly blocked the state from implementing the ban.

“If you have a lot of disease in the community you’ll get it in the school, the whole point is to prevent that,” mentioned CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

And it isn’t simply school-aged youngsters. In Houston, an 11-month-old lady needed to be airlifted to a hospital 150 miles away as a result of the pediatric hospitals within the space couldn’t take her.

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious illness specialist, mentioned it is a “very serious situation” for youngsters. “It’s pretty clear that we were really good about protecting our children last year and last year’s virus was not as dangerous as this year’s Delta variant,” she mentioned. “We need to add as many layers of protection as we can.”

For among the first vaccinated — together with seniors, individuals in long-term care amenities and healthcare staff — the CDC says a plan for offering COVID vaccine booster pictures might be introduced subsequent month.

President Biden known as out hot-spot governors his week, together with DeSantis, for failing to implement restrictions, together with mask mandates in colleges

“He thinks that should be a decision for the government, well I can tell ya in Florida, the parents are gonna be the ones in charge of that decision,” DeSantis mentioned of the president.

The governor has additionally mentioned that his state will not shut down once more regardless of the inflow of cases and hospitalizations.

“We’re not shutting down,” DeSantis mentioned Tuesday at a press convention. “These interventions have failed time and time again throughout this pandemic, not just in the United States but abroad. They have not stopped the spread.”

Florida had greater than 12,000 hospital sufferers with the coronavirus as of Thursday. In the final week, the state has additionally reported extra pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations than another state, at round 13,400.