PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With 87% of new COVID cases in the United States now the delta variant the alarms are sounding from the medical experts loud and clear.
“The spread of the virus threatens all of us, our jobs, our economy, our health,” says Dr. David Agus, a CBS Medical Expert and the CEO and Founder of the Ellison Institute of Transformative Medicine. “So we have to protect each other and the rules right now, are you have to wear a mask if you’re unvaccinated.”READ MORE: Allegheny County Health Director Says Delta Variant Is Fueling Rising Cases, Hospitalizations
The surge has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend that all students wear masks as they return to class next month.
Dr. Agus thinks that might be going too far.
“I understand where they’re coming from,” he says. “The delta variant is remarkably infectious but I do think we have to differentiate between vaccinated children and unvaccinated children.”
In other words, Dr. Agus does not believe vaccinated students should be required to wear a mask.
“In a sense, the reward for vaccination is you can take off that mask in the classroom setting,” he says.
However, he does advocate requiring proof.
“I know there’s some reticence of asking parents and children to validate that they’ve been vaccinated to bring their certificate to school, but we have to do that,” Dr. Agus says.
Shumway: Doesn’t that create an element of discrimination in the classroom if some kids are required to wear them and other kids aren’t?
Dr. Agus: Discrimination? This virus discriminates, you know, kids who don’t wear masks can be a vector for the spread of the virus and they can harm others and that’s as simple as it is.
Dr. Agus says the protection is not just in indoor settings.
“So certainly much less likely outdoors than indoors but it can still spread outdoors and this is new,” he says.
While the schools will make their decisions about masking that is still about a month away.READ MORE: 'Itchy Mites:' Preventing Bites And The Itch That Comes With A Mite Bite
Shumway: What should parents be doing with their kids between now and school?
Dr. Agus: Between now and school children need to wear masks when they leave the house, they need to be wearing them because they are unvaccinated.
WATCH: Back To School And Masking Up
He says the Delta Variant makes masking a good idea for everyone.
“Even if you’re vaccinated, you have to watch out for delta,” Dr. Agus says.
He says that is because it spreads so easily.
“There is a strong likelihood you’ll have no symptoms at all, and your immunity will take care of it, but about 30% chance that you’ll have minor symptoms or mild symptoms,” he explains. “What we think is to date is you are protected remarkably well with normal individuals are saved from having serious illness from delta.”
So this CEO of an institute that is working to find answers says masking up for everyone in a public place is a good idea.
“I certainly would, and I think it’s incumbent upon all of us as we see now, every state in the country has an increase in cases this week, some of them pretty dramatic increases, and the reason is they’re spread of the virus, particularly in young individuals,” he says. “So kids need to wear masks, anybody who’s unvaccinated. These are the rules, needs to wear a mask when they leave their house, it’s an honor system right now, but at some point in the future, they’re going to be required certificates of vaccination before you get into say a ballpark.”
But that requirement is unlikely to come from any government or official agency.
“It’s got to be driven by private industry and we’re doing it for the safety of everyone,” he says. “We cannot force anybody in our country to be vaccinated, that doesn’t make sense, but at the same time we have to protect everyone.”
Dr. Agus believes the biggest roadblock to more vaccinations is the misinformation being spread on social media.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Temperatures Continue Rising On Thursday
“It’s scary, because that information is costing lives costing the health of many people in this country, and it really shouldn’t be.”