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How does the delta variant affect children?

We talk to a doctor to learn how the Delta variant is impacting kids before they return to the classroom.

DENVER — Masks are making a comeback, especially for those returning to the classroom now that school districts have started to release their guidance.

"We would really encourage all children over the age of two to wear masks when appropriate,” said Dr. Reginald Washington, chief medical officer at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

Washington says children are extremely vulnerable when it comes to the delta variant. But there are still many unknown factors to learn how much they are at risk.

"We need to know how contagious it is in children. We're anxious to see if that transmission's going to increase among pediatric aged patients,” Washington said.

He believes the variant will be more contagious based on research and trends. Those at the National Institute of Health (NIH) believe it's more severe than the other variants.

"It's clear that this variant is capable of causing serious illness in children. You heard those stories coming out of Louisiana pediatric ICU’s where there are kids as young as a few months old that are sick from this. That is rare,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports nearly 72,000 cases were added the last week of July. That’s up from 39,000 the week prior.

Doctors say it’s still unclear how much more children are at risk than adults. But one thing they are looking out for is Multi-Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) which started to show in children who tested positive for COVID.

Washington says it’s one out of every 1,000 who come down with MIS. They are hoping more cases don’t arise with the delta variant. But the advice for keeping children protected remains the same.

"We do know that the most effective way to prevent COVID in children under 12 is to have them wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, and be socially distanced,” Washington said.

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