Area doctor: Delta variant putting parents, schools in tough position

DAYTON — The highly-transmissible delta COVID-19 variant was responsible for 83 percent of new cases in the United States and area children’s doctors are continuing to monitor the spread and symptoms experienced by kids.

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Doctors are seeing the delta variant is not causing a loss of taste or smell at the same rate as other variants and less cough, Dr. Sherman Alter, an infectious disease doctor at Dayton Children’s Hospital told News Center 7′s Kayla Courvell Wednesday. But doctors are seeing more people with sore throat, upset stomach, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

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While the delta variant is easier to spread, Alter said this puts kids at a high risk as back to school approaches.

“I think we have to look at this, kids under the age of 12, there’s no vaccine for them, and so yes, while most will have mild illness, some don’t, some will transmit it,” Alter said.

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And because of the easier transmission, Alter said schools and parents have been put in a tough position with the start of the school year just weeks away.

“Until we know more, the two things that will happen this school year, adults need to be vaccinated and kids need to practice non-pharmaceutical methods to mitigate the disease, which is mask wearing, hand washing, spacing, and since no one wants to discriminate who is vaccinated and who is not, you’re going to have to do it for most everyone and kids under 12 aren’t vaccinated at all. They’re at risk,” he said.

Ahead of back to school, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending anyone over the age of 2 should wear masks in schools. However several area districts have already gone away from mandatory masking policies. Alter said there’s no way to know in advance what this will do to COVID-19 numbers in schools with the changes in policy.

“When we talked about infection among children, all of us were doing maximum protection to decrease transmission, wearing masks, physical distancing, if we start loosening up and no one does that, we don’t know what the transmission to kids will be,” he said.

Alter said the best way to protect kids who are not eligible for the vaccine yet is to have the others who are eligible around them get the jab.

“The best way to protect these darn kids is to get the darn adults around them vaccinated.”