'It's just not safe' Beaumont doctors say kids need masks in school

Dr. Matthew Sims says masks for kids in schools are a must.

Sims, the director of infection prevention research at Beaumont Health is worried about all of those kids who are not vaccinated - all of the children under 12 who can't get vaccinated, and the community as a whole.

"It's just not safe," said Dr. Sims.

"Pediatric patients actually are asymptomatic carriers - they can spread the virus to others in the community," said Dr. Sandy Patel.  "The more virus that's present in the community, the more chances of a mutant virus to evolve as we are seeing with the Delta."

That's why Beaumont Pediatrician Dr. Sandy Patel is advocating for vaccines for everyone who can get them - her own children included.

"I took that moment with my children, I got them vaccinated," Dr. Patel said. "This is not just for my children, this is for the community. I don't want a variant out there because of increased numbers."

Right now doctors say pediatric hospitalizations remain low, but Covid cases, in general, are on the rise in Michigan - and at Beaumont.

"We've been seeing a steady rise in the number of admitted patients back at the beginning of July," Sims said. "We were down to some 30 patients across the entire system - now we're up to about 150 patients across the system."

Sims is blaming the far more contagious Delta variant attacking those who are most vulnerable - the people who have not gotten their COVID-19 vaccine.

"Almost all the deaths from Covid now are in the unvaccinated," he said. "These are tragedies that we can avoid with vaccination."

This is why he and Patel are asking families to talk to their pediatricians, to their family physicians, as children head back to school and about the importance of masking up again - and getting vaccinated if they're able.

Sims said his 13-year-old daughter, Megan, got her shot back in May.

"You shouldn't be listening to a friend on Facebook that doesn't work in medicine," said Megan Sims. "Trust the science - go to the FDA, CDC, ask your local doctor."

As for those school systems still undecided about mask mandates - Sims doesn't hesitate.

"The idea that we have this entire population of people who cannot be protected by the vaccine and they're going to make masking optional?" he said. "The fact of the matter is it just takes one or two cases to start ripping through schools.

"It's just a danger that there's no reason to take the risk of making this optional."