Among a group of 25 people with low immunity, there is a 44 percent chance that one of those individuals has COVID-19 in Dallas County. In Tarrant County, that number is 50 percent. Balloon that room’s occupancy to 100 people and there is a 90 percent chance at least one person has COVID-19 in Dallas County and 93 percent in Tarrant County.
For parents thinking about their unvaccinated children spending time in 25-person classes and cafeterias with over 100, these numbers from a UT Southwestern community briefing are cause for worry. Every cough, sniffle, or fever is now treated with the utmost caution, and sending them to school is also putting them in harm’s way. While COVID-19 doesn’t impact children at the rates it does adults, the delta variant has pushed children’s hospitals to capacity throughout the summer.
Masking and testing can help, though many districts are locked in legal limbo with the state government regarding whether they can require it for their students and staff. UTSW modeling says that after about three months in school with low immunity levels without masking or testing, 91 percent of the students will be infected with the virus. With testing, that number goes down to 79 percent, and masking will mean just 49 percent will be infected in three months. If both are present, just 22 percent of children will be infected by that time. In schools where most students are under 12, there are low levels of immunity. A school with high levels of immunity, masking, and testing can keep infections as low as 13 percent, according to the UTSW models.
The good news? The vaccines are inching closer to being available to younger patients. The Pfizer and Moderna versions have been given Emergency Use Approval for children as young as 12, and there are trials underway for patients aged 5 to 11, 2 to 5, and six months to 2. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will soon receive full approval from the FDA for patients as young as 18, and there are trials underway for patients as young as 12.Read More