In the weeks since Paul LePage shared his plan to let Maine’s children contract COVID, the scary reality of the virus has made it clear just how heartless and absurd his scheme would be. Across the country, pediatric hospitals are filling up with COVID patients at all-time high numbers, with a particularly high rate of hospitalization among kids who are too young for the vaccine. And Maine has not been immune from the increase in hospitalizations.

Comments from experts in Maine and around the country underscore just how dangerous Paul LePage’s plan could be for Maine kids:

Dr. Doug Sawyer, Interim Chief Medical Officer at MaineHealth: “This is different than the beginning of the pandemic…any given day at Maine Medical Center, there's five to 10 kids with COVID in the hospital…we're seeing kids sick with pretty severe COVID respiratory disease.”

Dr. John Alexander, Central Maine Healthcare Chief Medical Officer: “One of the things we know about omicron is that it tends to affect more of the larger airways and the upper airways, as opposed to the delta variant, which was really impactful in the lower lungs and the lower airways. Children, in general, have a larger effect associated with any upper airway infection, simply because they're anatomy is smaller. It can affect those children more so.

Dr. Dean Blumberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital: About 20%–40% of teens who get infected may develop long COVID…Older children will describe fuzzy thinking, that they are just not able to think clearly or they might have memory issues…it’s worse than [respiratory syncytial virus] and worse than influenza.”

Sadiqa Kendi, Division Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center: “...with the highly contagious nature of the omicron variant, we are just seeing the virus pass through children of all ages…and, of course, all of our children under 5 are unvaccinated. And so that means that they are at highest risk both for contracting this variant and also for needing to be hospitalized and getting serious illness…we'll see, I think, in the coming weeks whether or not we're seeing higher cases of [multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children] as well.”

Dr. Jennifer Shu, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Any loss of a child’s life is tragic, so why not try to avoid that?

“Paul LePage’s plan disregards the warnings of medical experts and would put Maine’s youngest in harm’s way. This is just one more example of how dangerous his return to the Blaine House would be for Maine,” said Drew Gattine, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. “We can’t let LePage sacrifice the health of Maine kids.”