MDH pushes for vaccines, masks amid rise in COVID-19 hospitalization of children

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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are climbing among children in Minnesota and across the country as they return to classrooms.

Last fall, the Minnesota Department of Health said the proportion of children hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state was about 0.7%. This fall, it is about 1.3%.

Health officials attribute this to being back in class in person and the Delta variant being more contagious.

As a result, health officials continue to push for vaccines.

But, because children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, the Minnesota Department of Health is also hoping to see all schools require masks.

“One person wearing a mask indoors is some level of protection. But, a classroom or a school full of people wearing masks is better protection,” Commissioner Jan Malcom said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, mandating masks in schools would have to be done by Governor Tim Walz.

So, for now, they can only continue to recommend strongly them.

“Masking reduces transmission of COVID, period. Your mask protects you and those around you,” Malcom said.

Health officials say schools should also maintain three feet of distance between students whenever possible.

And, they encourage students, teachers and staff to stay home if they aren’t feeling well.