Public health officials have said that California has taken steps to ensure children can go back to school safely, including requiring masks in indoor school settings and regular testing for unvaccinated workers. They also believe higher-than-average levels of vaccination in the state will help protect children.
“Parents should feel reassured that case rates are still very low amongst children; serious illnesses still remains relatively rare,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “And if we all are doing our part, we’re hopeful that schools are going to open with a lot of safety and without a lot of increased risk.”
Still, schools are reopening at a fraught moment.
Earlier this summer, there were so few children suffering from COVID-19 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego that medical staff decided they no longer needed a special unit to isolate young patients with the virus. Only four children were admitted with the coronavirus during the month of June.
“We were all congratulating each other that COVID was gone,” said Dr. John Bradley, Division of Infectious Diseases director at Rady. “A little prematurely, it turns out.”
Earlier this week, there were four children hospitalized with COVID-19 at the San Diego hospital. That increase has been disappointing but still far below last winter, when there were three to four times as many on a typical day, Bradley said.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles said it had 14 hospitalized patients with the coronavirus as of Thursday — triple the number in the previous week — and half of them are showing symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, according to hospital officials.