Dayton Children’s: COVID-19 rate down in schools with mask mandate

The coronavirus incidence rate decreased in local school districts that mandated face masks, said a Dayton Children’s Hospital official.

“What we’ve been trying to do is partner closely with our school systems in town and with our local health department,” Dayton Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adam Mezoff said during an Ohio Department of Health press conference Thursday.

The hospital is using ZIP code case data and matching it with schools that have mandatory and optional masking.

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“In last several weeks, since many schools have been trying to help out by going to mandatory masking mandates, we have found the incidence in COVID in those schools has decreased by 67%,” Mezoff said. “In the schools that are not mandatory masking, the incidence has actually gone up by 30%.”

As of Wednesday, the 45354 ZIP code, which is in Phillipsburg, had 2,631.6 cases per 100,000 people in the last month, according to the Ohio Department of Health. It’s the highest in Montgomery County. The second highest was 2,362.1 cases per 100,000 reported in 45327, which covers Germantown and southwest Montgomery County.

In the last two weeks, the 45327 ZIP code had the most cases per 100,000 in the county, 961.9, according to ODH. The 45354 ZIP was listed as not applicable.

Northmont City Schools and Valley View Local Schools, which serve Phillipsburg and the Germantown areas respectively, both mandate face masks. Data requested by the Dayton Daily News showed Northmont has approved 73 mask exemptions and Valley View 179.

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While Dayton Children’s initially wasn’t seeing a lot of COVID-19 patients, Mezoff said the delta variant was a “game changer” in the pediatric world.

“Now, we regularly have anywhere between 10 to 15 (COVID patients),” he said.

Because of staffing issues, even a slight increase in coronavirus patients is putting additional strain on health care workers.

“Even if our hospital isn’t 40% full of COVID patients, that extra 10% or 20% is tipping us over the edge with what we are able to do,” Mezoff said. “...As this virus mutates, as we see new forms of it we’re seeing that affect different populations in different ways. It is absolutely contributing to a large overflow of patients in pediatric hospitals.”

Dayton Children’s has also seen six patients in the last two days with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a rare but serious syndrome associated with COVID-19 that can be fatal.

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“What the tells me is as we get further into this surge of COVID, we’re seeing the long-term complications that COVID can bring to children,” Mezoff said.

He stressed the importance of having children who are eligible get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“To date, we’ve had no child admitted to our hospital with COVID that has been vaccinated,” he said.

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