JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Parents - it’s officially time to be on high alert. Kids are now leading the numbers in new COVID-19 cases here in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health’s most recent data.
Mohammed Reza, an infectious disease specialist with Mayo Clinic, says cases are likely higher than expected and that, “Just because of confirmed cases we are saying right now… that’s likely the tip of the iceberg.”
Kids 12 and under are officially leading Florida in newly reported cases. Last week, over 26,000 new cases were reported in the age group.
“When I talk to my pediatric colleagues on the front lines, they are seeing this. They’ve been saying it for weeks now,” Reza says.
Doctors say many cases are coming from school-related exposures and the delta variant.
Reza adds 1 to 2% of kids infected will end up in the hospital - that’s over 600 kids from last week’s infection alone. Nearly 200 of those will end up in the ICU.
“Of all the people that are getting infected… 1 to 2%… that seems like a small number, 1 to 2% of children will require hospitalization. That’s hundreds of children that can be prevented from requiring hospitalization,” he says.
Reza says even more kids, around 10%, will have to deal with long COVID-19, even if they aren’t hospitalized.
“We know that with the alpha variant and more likely with the delta variant, which is more contagious children can have long COVID.”
Long COVID-19 could mean anything from loss of smell or taste to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). He says if you haven’t been putting extra precautions to protect your children in place, now is the time.
“It is false that children cannot get sick from this virus. That’s totally false.”
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