Wearing a mask should be like wearing a seat belt or a helmet

LAFAYETTE, La. — The focus of the pandemic is shifting to the little ones.

The Department of Health reports more cases under the ages of 5 to 17 than ever before, with more than 6,000 cases for the week ending Aug. 20 — the same week that children returned to the classroom.

Speaking at the governor’s weekly press conference, Dr Kimberly Mukerjee said parents should see a mask on their children as simple as putting on a seat belt when they get in the car or wearing a helmet when traveling to a bike ride.

“And now we have new tools at hand,” she said. “We have masks, we have vaccines. And we need to see these as essential tools in our toolkit to keep our children safe.”

Closer to home, Dr. Tina Stefanski, medical director of the Ministry of Health, Region 4: Masks are good.

“It’s just very basic,” said Dr. Stefanski. “It’s really a basic tool that we have and it’s very effective. And again, we are at a dangerously high level of transmission in our community.”

Keeping children safe, not politically, is what Dr. Mukerjee says that should be at the center of any debate about wearing masks.

“I urge you to remove the politics, to remove the arguments from this discussion, because no one in this room, in this community, in this state would argue that life should be anything other than priority and that that child should be safe and secure. thrive in childhood,” she said.

Much is at stake, she added.

“One death is too many,” she says. “One child falling behind is too much.”

Statewide, there have been more cases of COVID-19 in the short time school has resumed this year than in the first two months of school last year.

During his visit to UL Lafayette on Thursday, the governor said the only way to keep schools open is to follow expert guidelines.

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