WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 9: US Surgeon General Jerome Adams appears before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on September 9, 2020 in Washington DC. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said a vaccine likely won't be available until late this year at the soonest.
(Photo by Michael Reynolds- Pool/Getty Images)

Former Surgeon General: Schools Could Shut Down Again If Delta Variant Not Taken Seriously

INDIANAPOLIS— Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. surgeon general, and WISH-TV’s medical expert, says the best way to protect children attending school in person is for as many people as possible to get vaccinated.

Adams spoke with News 8’s Phil Sanchez Tuesday and gave his thoughts on the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending universal masking in schools for everyone over the age of 2.

“What people need to remember is last year when kids were in school, they were mostly masked up,” Adams said. “They were socially distanced. There were a lot fewer people in school and we didn’t have a Delta variant that is four times as likely to be passed along. So different environment this year. And that’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics says if we don’t want quarantines, if we don’t want shutdowns, if we really want to keep our kids in school until we can get them vaccinated, we need to look at other measures and one of those measures — the most important one — is masking.”

While Adams emphasized how valuable in-person learning is for children, he said he’s concerned the Delta variant is not being taken seriously enough.

However, he believes kids will be able to stay in school if the right protocols are put in place.

“I’m very concerned. And I want our kids in school. They need to be in school: mental health problems, emotional, educational problems. But we’ve got the tools to keep them in school. We saw it last year. If we mask, social distance, use mitigation where appropriate, we can keep them in school. If we have high vaccination rates, then we can lower the spread of disease,” Adams said.

Adams also stressed that when those who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine do so, they are helping protect the people around them as well as themselves. He says increasing vaccination rates makes it more likely kids will be able to remain in school.

“The message I think everyone should take home is to get vaccinated if you can. If you’re an adult, if you’re someone over 12 and you get vaccinated, that drives down your background community rates. And pay attention to the numbers in your local health officials. If those numbers are starting to go up, then understand that they may have to bring back masking as a way of keeping our kids in school,” said Adams.

Adams was also Indiana’s Health Commissioner from October 2014-September 2017.

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