Masks in schools, delta variant 'much more contagious,' CDC, doctors say

The CDC and local health officials recommend masks for all students and staff in schools as COVID cases continue to rise. 

Pediatricians in Wisconsin are reporting an increase in the delta variant among children.

"It’s really the predominant virus right now," said Dr. Gregory Demuri, UW Health. "If you’re getting COVID today, most likely, it’s the delta variant."

Demuri encourages both in-person learning and masks this school year.

"We want to keep kids in school," said Demuri. "Statewide, it’s been a dramatic increase in the number of cases. If you want to keep your kid in school and not have them get quarantined, then have them wear a mask."

Milwaukee Public Schools is one of many districts requiring masks this fall. Many other districts have not said if they will be requiring masks. Demuri is advising masks even if your child is vaccinated.

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"The delta variant is much more contagious, and a study that just came out by some of my colleagues here at the University of Wisconsin and the Madison Dane Public Health Department showed that people who had the vaccine and got the delta variant had the same high levels of virus in their nose and were likely just as contagious as those who hadn’t been vaccinated," said Demuri.

He said Tuesday, Aug. 3 he is currently treating children with COVID.

"This condition in childhood, MISC, which is a heart condition, tends to occur about three to four weeks after the COVID infection, so the last time, during the major surge, we saw that lagging behind other cases of COVID, and I imagine we will be seeing that here in a few weeks," said Demuri.

Demuri said there is still a lot we don’t know about the long-term effects of the variant.

"Wearing a mask is not a big ask," said Demuri. "This is our part in society and our role that we have in society, and we need to help our other humans. This is how we can help them."

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A Republican-controlled legislative committee moved to block the UW System from taking several steps to fight coronavirus spread without its approval.