A group of more than two dozen congressional Republicans demanded answers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday as to why children aged 2 and older must wear face masks despite overwhelming evidence they possess extremely low risk from coronavirus infection.
Children, 32 lawmakers from both chambers wrote in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky spearheaded by Utah Sen. Mike Lee, account for less than 2 percent of all coronavirus cases and present low risk of spreading infection, according to the scientific literature. The CDC, however, more than 12 months into the pandemic, still says children as young as 2 years old should wear a face mask. These recommendations carry a heavy weight, influencing state, federal, and corporate guidelines.
“The implementation of these recommendations has had serious consequences for some Americans,” lawmakers wrote, including airplane removal and placement of parents on airline blacklists. “These unfortunate events have occurred despite the parents’ best attempts to have their child cooperate with the mask requirement, which is a struggle millions of parents have faced this year.”
Earlier today my family endure the most horrific & dehumanizing treatment onboard @WestJet plane. My wife was threatening to be arrested & forcibly removed unless my daughters, 3 yrs & 19 months would wear a mask. While my 3yrs wore her mask, the 19 months old was hysterical. pic.twitter.com/MHnaTnKgCU
— Safwan Choudhry (@SafwanChoudhry) September 9, 2020
Compliance for children with disabilities meanwhile, “has proved almost impossible, resulting in increased social isolation and negative mental health consequences.”
The U.S. requirement that nearly all children wear masks stands out as a global outlier. Swiss children under the age of 12 are exempt from mask mandates, while children under the age of 11 in France and Great Britain also remain mask free.
Republicans even highlighted comments from National Institutes of Health Director Anthony Fauci, who said, “If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected.”
“Our review of scientific literature on COVID-19 infections showed ‘evidence for significantly lower susceptibility to infection for children aged under 10 years compared to adults given the same exposure,’” lawmakers wrote, outlining another study that found children enjoy 56 percent lower probability of infection as opposed to adults after contact with another infected individual.
Given the data, Republicans demanded the CDC explain in detail, with the studies it examined, how it came to its conclusion for children as young as 2 to wear face masks, with a deadline for response set for May 6. Republicans are also inquiring whether the CDC is remaining up to date on the latest science related to childhood COVID-19 transmission.