OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma doctor is citing a disturbing new study on the outlook of COVID-19 and elementary school students during these opening months of the school year.
Dr. George Monks of the Oklahoma State Medical Association shared models that show as many as 80 percent of elementary-aged kids who haven’t had COVID or gotten the vaccine will catch the virus if schools don’t regularly conduct COVID tests and require students and staff to wear face masks.
OSMA president Dr. Mary Clark is terrified by the stats in the August study.
“We’re really concerned about the elementary and the middle school children who cannot be vaccinated,” she said. “There is no protection for them at all except for a mask and making sure we try to socially distance as much as possible. So, we are extremely, extremely concerned.”
The CDC-funded study by North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina and other institutions paints a grim picture of elementary schools that don’t mask or conduct regular testing. It projects that about 80 percent of students who are unvaccinated or have not had the virus, labeled susceptible students, will catch the virus in 60 days. Projections for the entire first semester are that 90 percent of susceptible elementary students would be infected if the precautions aren’t taken.
“It is very striking,” remarked Clarke.
She shared that she’s trusted models like these since the pandemic began.
“I will tell you that in the last year-and-a-half, the modeling data that we’ve been using, and that the CDC uses, and our current epidemiologists use, have pretty much proven out to be true. So, I would not expect these data to be any different. But if you do what’s right, the numbers will be lower and hopefully our models look different.”
With the delta variant spreading fast and other mutating variants of concern on their radar, Clarke said mass vaccination is the best path forward. Herd immunity would be 70 to 85 percent of Oklahomans getting the shot.
“If we get everybody vaccinated today, let’s say we could, that would immediately stop the spread of a virus,” she explained. “If it’s not spreading and not multiplying, it cannot mutate into another variant.”
Clarke said vaccination for kids under the age of 12 is just around the corner. Children as young as six-months-old should hopefully have access to the COVID shot by this fall or early next year.