By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – COVID-19 cases among kids are rising and parents should be concerned. That’s the message from experts on Wednesday as we are just weeks away from the start of school.

Mayo Clinic doctors pointed to these figures from the CDC. For the week ending July 29, there were 72,000 cases of COVID-19 in kids under 18. The week before, there were 40,000 cases.

READ MORE: Data Show COVID Cases In Minnesota Schools Have Declined, But Experts Still Watching For Long-Term Trends

Top doctors from the Mayo Clinic say data from summer camps has given them concrete evidence for why kids need to mask up in schools.

Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse said “in summer camp settings that used masks or didn’t use masks, the ones they were not using masks in were much more likely to have outbreaks or spread of infection.”

As for protecting kids under 12 from the Delta variant, doctors say its critical parents try to enforce three prevention methods: wear masks, social distance, and wash hands often.

“The COVID vaccines that we have in the U.S. are the most studied vaccines we have ever had,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, speaking to parents who have been holding off on getting the vaccine for their kids.

READ MORE: Can You Get The Flu Shot And The COVID Vaccine?

Children’s Hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul have admitted more than 460 children for treatment of COVID-19 and more than 117 have wound up in intensive care. Children’s physician Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz stresses that parents need to understand that anything they have heard about kids not being affected by COVID-19 is simply not true.

“There is a huge number of children and youth who will be going to school, K-12, who are not protected and they are depending on the people around them hopefully not having it or passing it on,” said Berkowitz.

As for when there will finally be a vaccine for children under 12 , experts say there should be one this winter.

One of the major barriers for some parents to get their children vaccinated is that none of these vaccines are FDA approved. That should soon change. The FDA has said they should have an evaluation of the Pfizer vaccine – the only one approved for children – by Labor Day

MORE NEWS: St. Paul Mayor: City Employees Must Get COVID Vaccine By End Of 2021

The Mayo Clinic doctors recommend you send kids off to school with two masks in case the first one rips or gets wet.

Esme Murphy