NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- A recent uptick in COVID cases, fueled by the delta variant, is causing concern across the Tri-State for the upcoming school year with a growing amount of children being infected by the virus.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy reaffirmed the state's commitment to masks for the new school year. This as he announced 13 children in the state are now hospitalized with COVID.
"There are now 13 kids with COVID currently being treated in our hospitals," Governor Murphy said. "Two of whom are in intensive care. There are those on one side of this who will preference with the word 'only,' they are essentially perfectly accepting of these numbers."
On an afternoon where there were no new mandates to announce, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy doubled back on last week when he faced not one, but at least two occasions of outraged parents against his mask mandate for schools this coming school year.
"They are fine with kids, many too young to be vaccinated, contracting COVID," Murphy said. "They are saying they will accept outbreaks that will shut down schools just like what's happened in other states without masking requirements where entire districts are shut down with hundreds if not thousands of kids and educators exposed."
As of Monday, New Jersey has vaccinated more than 5 million people -- with millions still refusing the shot.
The CDC is now calling the resurgence a pandemic of the unvaccinated, with the delta variant driving most hospitalizations and deaths.
This comes as the school year approaches, where kids under 12 cannot yet receive the vaccine. The state is relying on the mask mandate but says it really needs to see more students 12 and up getting the vaccine before school starts.
"Most schools in New Jersey open around September 8, so getting a COVID-19 test or vaccination this week will allow enough time to receive a second dose before school starts," New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.
Meanwhile in New York City, a major campaign to encourage parents to get their kids ages 12 and up vaccinated continues.
The city is calling it Vax to School, and Monday is the last day parents can start their kids on the vaccine series in order to be fully inoculated by the first day of classes on September 13.
"I was pretty nervous, but when I got the shot it didn't feel that bad," Carlos Rodriguez.
On Monday night in Queens, 12-year-old Carlos Rodriguez came with his mom to the mass vaccination site at Citi Field.
So did 12-year-old Joel Vega.
"I just took the vaccine and I feel normal so far," Vega said. "I feel good, I'm vaccinated and all that stuff, that I'm safe from COVID."
In a newly released weekly report, which compiles state-by-state data on COVID-19 cases among children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association (CHA) found that nearly 94,000 new child COVID-19 cases were reported last week, a continued "substantial" increase.
Which is why there's such a hard push to get kids vaccinated.
"They need to be protected; they need to be safe because this coronavirus and the other variant is very very dangerous for the people," parent Eileen Bendoyro said.
Rodriguez had a message for kids like him.
"They should get the vaccine so they can be more safe and not have the risk of dying," he said.
Only the Pfizer vaccine has received emergency FDA authorization for kids as young as 12, and with the three-week waiting period required between doses, it takes five weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective.
Submit a News Tip or Question