Colorado counties with high vaccination rates have much lower infection rates among children than those with low rates. Infection rates in schools that require masks are lower than schools that do not.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Health officials in Colorado say there is now clear evidence that vaccinations and masks help protect children from COVID-19. John Daley reports from Colorado Public Radio.
JOHN DALEY, BYLINE: The state Department of Health compared coronavirus case rates to vaccination rates in children ages 12-17. You were eligible for the vaccine in May. The researchers recorded the comparisons for the 10 largest counties in the state. They found that the counties where vaccination rates were lowest were more than twice or higher than those in the counties where vaccination rates were highest. State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.
RACHEL HERLIHY: We see this clear connection between high vaccination rates and low case numbers. And that applies not only to the adult population, but also to our children.
DALEY: The state health department has also looked at the effects of masks in schools. There is no nationwide mask mandate, but nearly 80% of Colorado’s K-12 students are in counties that require masks. Researchers compared coronavirus case rates for 48 Colorado school districts that started school in mid-August. Herlihy says they rose significantly higher in counties that didn’t require masks than in counties that did.
HERLIHY: … A clear impact of masks on reducing transmission in our school environments.
DALEY: Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released a report from Arizona. It found that schools in two of the state’s most populous counties were 3 1/2 times more likely to be affected by COVID-19 outbreaks if they did not have a mask requirement at the start of school, compared to schools that required universal masking on the first day.
Overall, Colorado is in a fifth wave of the pandemic. Many hospitals here are almost full and have problems with staffing. Currently 900 Coloradans are being hospitalized for COVID-19. Another state health leader, Incident Commander Scott Bookman, said these numbers are still incredibly high.
SCOTT BOOKMAN: Eighty percent of those currently hospitalized are unvaccinated.
DALEY: Almost 60% of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated. That puts Colorado in the top third of the state, and health officials say it has helped Colorado avoid the worst of the worst hospital conditions in any other state. But they warn that winter is approaching and the situation is still precarious.
For MediaFrolic news, I’m John Daley in Denver.
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