Tennessee sees largest spike in child COVID cases since pandemic began

Tennessee sees largest COVID spike among children just as students return to school.
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:00 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:32 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee saw the largest spike of new COVID-19 cases among children since the pandemic began last week, according to data from the state health department.

According to the data, last week saw over 12,000 new COVID-19 cases among children between the ages of five and 18.

The spike comes as students begin returning to the classroom for the new year, with school systems reporting a steady increase in case numbers. Knox County Schools began tracking COVID cases and updating a daily dashboard yesterday, reporting almost 300 cases among Knox County students and staff.

Many school systems are experimenting with mask mandates to combat the spike, such as Oak Ridge Schools. The Oak Ridge Board of Education voted in favor of the mask mandate, which went into effect Tuesday, earlier in the week. The mandate did, however, comply with Gov. Bill Lee’s new Executive Order 84.

Under the order, parents are allowed to opt their children out of mask mandates, something health officials are not recommending.

Gov. Lee has received some resistance to the order from Tennessee school systems. Officials with both Shelby County Schools in West Tennessee and Metro Nashville Schools released statements saying the districts plan to continue to enforce mask mandates and will not allow parents to opt children out.

Gov. Lee also received a letter from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona saying that the executive order may infringe on federal laws requiring schools to present strategies combatting COVID-19.

The last peak of new COVID cases among children was in December, when one week saw around 9,000 new cases.

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