COVID-19 Cases Rise While Few School Mask Mandates Return

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — U.S. COVID-19 circumstances are up, main a smattering of college districts, significantly within the Northeast, to convey again masks mandates and proposals for the primary time because the omicron winter surge ended and because the nation approaches 1 million deaths within the pandemic.

The return of masking in faculties will not be almost as widespread as earlier within the pandemic, significantly because the public’s worries over the virus have ebbed. But districts in Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have introduced masks again, with a couple of in Massachusetts additionally recommending them whilst the college year enters its last weeks.

Maine’s largest college district, in Portland, stated this week masks would return, with Superintendent Xavier Botana saying that was the “safest course at this time” amid rising circumstances. Bangor, Maine, faculties additionally introduced again a common masks requirement.

High faculties within the suburbs of Pittsburgh and in Montclair, New Jersey, a commuter suburb of New York City, additionally introduced a return to masking, albeit briefly by way of this week. According to knowledge from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lot of the counties within the nation thought-about to have “high” ranges of COVID-19 are within the Northeast.

In elements of Massachusetts which have seen excessive ranges of COVID-19 transmission, authorities are additionally recommending masks in faculties.

Reactions have ranged from supportive to offended. On the Facebook web page of Woodland Hills High School in suburban Pittsburgh, one girl referred to as the change “#insane.”

Students wearing mask as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus line up to receive KN95 protective masks at Camden High School in Camden, N.J., Feb. 9, 2022.
Students sporting masks as a precaution in opposition to the unfold of the coronavirus line as much as obtain KN95 protecting masks at Camden High School in Camden, N.J., Feb. 9, 2022.

Diana Martinez and Owen Cornwall, who’ve a first-grader at Graham and Parks School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have been following the advice to masks their daughter.

“We’re very happy about it. It gives us a little peace of mind,” stated Martinez, 42, a professor at Tufts University. “I think the parents generally trend toward wearing them and that gives us some comfort. It’s the same case at our pre-school. There will be a couple of parents who don’t mask their child, but we will be masking our child.”

Cornwall stated there appears to be a normal consensus within the college group in favor of taking part in it secure.

“We’re sort of lucky in this neighborhood, that they share our concerns with health,” stated Cornwall, 37, a visiting scholar at Tufts.

Reported each day circumstances within the U.S. are averaging 79,000, up 50% over the previous two weeks, in accordance with knowledge compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That’s a fraction of the place each day case counts stood earlier this year, after they topped 800,000.

However, present case counts are an unlimited undercount due to a significant downturn in testing and the very fact exams are being taken at dwelling and never reported to well being departments.

An influential modeling group on the University of Washington in Seattle estimates that solely 13% of circumstances are being reported to well being authorities within the U.S. — which might imply an undercount of greater than a half million new infections daily.

Despite the uptick in circumstances and the return to masking in a small variety of faculties, the response across the country has been largely subdued, reflecting the general public’s exhaustion after greater than two years of restrictions.

Outside of colleges, nonetheless, officers have proven little curiosity in returning to masks mandates.

Last month, Philadelphia deserted its indoor masks mandate simply days after turning into the primary massive American metropolis to reimpose the requirement in response to a rise in COVID-19 circumstances and hospitalizations.

The United States is approaching the grim marker of 1 million deaths from COVID-19. Globally, there have been greater than 6 million deaths within the pandemic, in accordance with a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Hospital employees at Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, who labored by way of the worst of the pandemic paused Wednesday to acknowledge the sacrifice.

Intensive care unit nurse coordinator Patsy Brandenburger was among the many many hospital caregivers who obtained a blessing from Father Patrick Okonkwo, a hospital chaplain, through the Roman Catholic ceremony.

She recalled the worst days of the pandemic, when the hospital was crammed with a whole lot of sufferers, together with dozens on ventilators; now the hospital has simply seven COVID-19 sufferers.

“The amount of patients we saw that passed away in the ICU was so, so, so hard. And just the families that couldn’t be there with them was extremely hard on all of us,” Brandenburger stated combating away tears.

Catalini reported from Trenton, New Jersey. Associated Press writers Eugene Garcia in Orange, California, Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, and AP writers throughout the nation contributed.

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