Pediatric COVID Cases Are Skyrocketing—Yet Some Parents Still Rage Against Virus Guidelines

One Arizona parent threatened a principal with zip ties.

Paul Hennessy/Sipa USA via AP

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As the school year starts for millions of children across the country, coronavirus cases among kids are on the rise. The American Academy of Pediatrics is reporting that between August 5 and August 26, 500,000 children tested positive for COVID-19—a five-fold increase since July. The alarming rise in cases comes as many students are returning to in-person classrooms and conservative parents protests against mask and vaccine mandates designed to keep kids safe.

Despite the rollout of the vaccine, the Delta variant of the coronavirus is surging across the country, particularly in states where vaccine rates remain low. The vast majority of the people getting infected, hospitalized, and dying from the virus are the unvaccinated—which includes children under 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Because the youngest among us cannot be inoculated, we have to rely on other measures to keep them safe, like masking, distancing, testing, and ventilation.

The consequences of ignoring public health restrictions are grim. More than 220 children’s hospitals are pleading with the Biden administration for help as the increasing number of child patients are straining the staff and their facilities. “Our children’s health care safety net is under unprecedented strain,” Children’s Hospital Association CEO Mark Wietecha said in a press release. “Children’s hospitals and their dedicated staffs are doing their part, and we hope every American, the White House and Congress can help.”

Unfortunately, not everyone is concerned about the safety of children. An alarming number of parents have tried to interfere with public health protocols at schools. On Thursday, an Arizona elementary school called a parent of a child at the school to inform him that his child had been exposed to the coronavirus and needed to quarantine at home. The child’s father, instead, showed up to the school with two other men and zip ties.

When they arrived, according to the Washington Post, they told school staff that they were there to arrest the principal. “If you insist on this, I’ll have you arrested,” one of the unidentified men said. “We’re ready to make a citizen’s arrest if necessary.” The principal informed the men that he was simply following guidance from the county health department and called the police. The men left before law enforcement arrived. 

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In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

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