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Four charts illustrate Florida’s COVID crisis | Editorial
Most K-12 schools open this week, just as the delta variant is raging.
The effects of the delta variant on Florida's various age groups.
The effects of the delta variant on Florida's various age groups. [ Times files ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Aug. 10
Updated Aug. 11

Raising children in the COVID-era isn’t for the easily unnerved. In the best of times, parents fine-tune the risks appropriate for their children to face. A raging virus adds a new challenge to that calculation, like moving from algebra to calculus, but with far more at stake.

Last year, schools did not appear to be a major spreader of COVID, and kids didn’t get sick nearly as often as older people. When they did get sick they didn’t suffer as much. Will that be the case this school year? Let’s hope so, but it’s hard to tell just yet.

The delta variant has all of the major COVID indicators headed in the wrong direction, including cases and hospitalizations. The debate about whether to mask or not seems as political and heated as ever, maybe more so. And nearly all elementary school students and some middle schoolers aren’t eligible for the vaccine. It’s a lot for well-meaning parents to process. Social media is full of mothers and fathers lamenting the gut-wrenching decisions about whether to put their children in harm’s way, whatever that means to them. They have to weigh the many benefits of in-person schooling against the menace of COVID. Some say this is the most difficult decision they have ever made. The anxiety is palpable.

The avalanche of misinformed rhetoric doesn’t help, either. So as schools open this week, we leave parents with some facts, illustrated in four graphics. Good luck, beleaguered parents. May you be wise and brave.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.