Beaumont pediatrician urges vaccinations, mask mandates as more children test positive for COVID-19

Dr. Ramona Ataya-Dakour said her two main concerns are the lack of space in pediatric hospital units and kids returning to school without masks.

BEAUMONT, Texas — A Beaumont pediatrician is urging the Southeast Texas community to get vaccinated and local schools to mandate masks, as more children test positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Ramona Ataya-Dakour said her two main concerns are the lack of space in pediatric hospital units and kids returning to school without masks. At her pediatric clinic, she continues to see kids test positive for COVID-19.

Without Texas schools defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders and enforcing mask mandates, Ataya-Dakour said she is concerned about a spike in cases as the fall 2021 school semester begins.

“I do expect that we’re going to have a pretty large increase in cases coming up in the next few weeks as school starts up,” she said. “And this is what worries me, not only children getting it but bringing it home to their families.”

With a few exceptions, most of the children who contract the virus have shown mild symptoms, Dakour said. However, health officials have had to send children with severe symptoms to Houston, due to lack of pediatric ICU capacity in Southeast Texas hospitals.

“Any COVID patients needing hospitalization are getting sent to Houston because we just don’t have the capacity to take care of those kids,” Ataya-Dakour said.

Health officials urge young parents to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their children, as a lot of COVID-19 cases come from younger Southeast Texans in their 30s and 40s. Some have even died from the virus.

Southeast Texas mother Julie Stephensen said she and her four kids all tested positive for COVID-19, after contracting the virus from her vaccinated husband.

Stephenson’s 9-month-old daughter suffered the most, and her other kids had symptoms including fatigue, headaches and coughing, she said.

“The baby, she’s had the worst symptoms,” Stephensen said. “She had issues with fever for a couple of nights and it disturbed her sleep, and she was just miserable.”

Stephensen and her family is doing better but after the COVID-19 scare, she plans to mask up her children when they return to school, she said.

“I just had the conversation with (my kids) this morning, ‘You know, not everybody’s going to be wearing masks, but I want you all to. It’s important. We don’t want to go through this again’” she said. 

Dr. Ramona Ataya-Dakour urges everyone, especially those with kids, to get vaccinated to not only protect themselves, but also their kids.

Written by James Grant (12NewsNow), Tiana Johnson (KBMT)

Categories: Education, Health

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