Health experts concerned for educators, students as delta variant spreads in Kentucky

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 9:14 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Dr. Mark Dougherty of Baptist Health Lexington has seen unvaccinated teachers, custodians and bus drivers passing through his doors since the start of the academic year.

“The thing that concerns me is that this is just the beginning of the school year,” Dr. Dougherty said.

Dr. Dougherty noted that the virus is increasingly being spread by students.

“We need to be able to keep schools open. We can’t have kids being the number one driver of the pandemic now,” Dr. Dougherty said.

This comes as the state legislature has made masking in schools optional.

“I think that’s frankly foolish, it’s not common sense,” Dr. Dougherty said.

The transmission through schools is having a ripple effect.

“We have healthcare providers whose kids have gotten sick in school and now they’re in quarantine, which means that we have fewer healthcare providers to take care of all of our sick COVID and non-COVID patients,” Dr. Dougherty said.

Dr. Dougherty called working in schools a “high risk” occupation, perhaps even more so than working in healthcare.

He doesn’t believe the peak of this surge has been reached, so he said it’s imperative that districts decide to mask up.

“I think if we don’t have school districts going through with their own mask mandates, we’re going to be in bigger and bigger trouble,” Dr. Dougherty said.

He said teachers and faculty should all get vaccinated.

“We know if you haven’t had the vaccine and haven’t had COVID, you have a very high chance of getting delta COVID in the next few weeks,” Dr. Dougherty said.

Dr. Dougherty said that Baptist Health had 110 COVID patients last week. On July 4, they had just three.

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