DES MOINES, Iowa — Now that the holidays are over, many students are returning to the classroom.
Metro health leaders say they are holding their breath as to how this return will impact the region's positivity rate and hospitalizations.
"We anticipate to see a spike in cases and a spike in hospitalizations right now," said Polk County Health Department Communications Director Nola Aigner Davis. "With all of these schools coming back without mask mandates after the holidays, I can only imagine what it's going to look like."
The metro's three major health systems along with surrounding health departments issued a joint statement on Monday with the headline, "Help. We are overwhelmed".
Aigner Davis says pediatric cases are once again on the rise, now accounting for roughly 30% of all cases.
"It's really important for our kids to be wearing masks, our kids to be social distancing, our kids to be washing their hands," she said. "If your child is sick, they need to stay home."
Aigner Davis adds while it may seem obvious, families should keep infected children at home, and that it's been a consistent problem throughout the pandemic.
"We have seen kiddos sent to school when they don't have symptoms," Aigner Davis said. "Which means they're asymptomatic. So they can easily transmit COVID-19 to their classmate to their teacher to their faculty or staff at their school."
A ripple effect of infections that could add to an already overwhelmed system of caregivers.
"Our hospitals cannot keep doing this. You think about our health care workers. And they have been doing this for years. Think about this, we're going on almost two years in March. They are tired, they are burnt out, they are overwhelmed."
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