Everybody is reporting today about new federal data that shows a sharp rise in pediatric COVID cases. And the apparent lack of concern by anti-mask and anti-vaccine forces (meaning the majority of the Arkansas legislature.)

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As shown, the Arkansas Department of Health has begun a page on its daily report for pediatric cases.

They now account for 18 percent of all cases in Arkansas since the pandemic began. But more alarming is the trend: These cases account for 32.5 percent of current active cases. As schools report mounting cases, this percentage seems likely to increase.

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Deaths are increasing among younger people.

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Think about this as you watch the Arkansas legislature fight to retain dictatorial power over health policy in Arkansas. As I noted before, legal filings show loss of legislative power is more important to Arkansas legislative leaders Matthew Shepherd and Jimmy Hickey than children’s health. Their taxpayer-hired special counsel invented two laughable, embarrassing justifications for this:

  1. The mask mandate ban encourages vaccinations. Two problems: kids under 12 can’t get shots and the power-mad legislature prohibited vaccination mandates as well.
  2. Bans on local decision-making are necessary to keep the peace. Mandates cause dissension, your “leaders” say. God help Arkansas, they suggest, if ranting MAGA types can’t control public policy with shouts, threats, misinformation and bullying.

As kids get sick and die in increasing numbers in Arkansas, remember this amazing passage from lawyers you paid to defend the legislative autocrats in their effort to overturn a lower court ruling that has allowed dozens of school districts to have mask rules:

The Act 1002 Injunction is causing irreparable harm because it prevents Act 1002, enacted by the representatives of the citizens of Arkansas, from being effective. As a practical matter, it interferes with the legislature’s efforts to keep the peace and encourage the remaining unvaccinated segment of the population to get vaccinated without using mandates. There is a proliferation of disputes at the local level about local mask mandates, which has resulted in unnecessary dissension.

The legislature knows best. It can’t tolerate unnecessary dissension. However: Democracy is messy at the local level. And it is often healthier for children than meetings of the Arkansas General Assembly.

PS on dissension: According to the most recent ADH data on COVID-19 in the schools, the school district leader in cumulative cases among students and staff is the Cabot School District, where an uproar by angry anti-maskers delayed a School Board decision on a temporary mask requirement.

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Current school leaders, ranked by current active cases, not per capita, through last Thursday (before football season began in earnest):

The governor signed the ban on mask mandates and the ban on vaccination mandates. He opposes mandates, though he is fighting the lower court ruling to protect HIS power as the executive branch. And he’s encouraging everybody to go to county fairs and football games. Was a lovely sight to see a largely maskless crowd of 64,000 shouting for the first Razorback win of the season, wasn’t it?