FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Doctors in Florida say they’re seeing many more coronavirus infections among children just as students begin to return to classrooms.
There has been “an enormous increase” in COVID-19 cases among children in July and August at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronald Ford said.
Most of these children have been treated in the emergency room and sent home, but “those that are admitted are sicker than what we’ve seen before, and many of them are requiring care in our intensive care units,” Ford said.
But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the share of pediatric hospitalizations is still between 1.1% and 1.4% in the state, which is how it has behaved throughout the pandemic. On Wednesday, 177 of the 15,071 patients with COVID-19 — about 1.2 % — were children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“There’s been no change in the proportion of pediatric patients who are COVID positive,” he said. “Obviously we have more people that are COVID positive in hospitals than we did six weeks ago, so the raw numbers are increasing for everybody.”
About 20 children who had the virus sought treatment at the South Florida hospital’s emergency department in June, Ford said.
“That number went to well over 200 in July and, even at this point in the month of August, we are already up to over 160. So we’re well on the way to breaking July’s record,” Ford said.
On Tuesday, the hospital had nine positive patients admitted, with five in the ICU, Ford said.
Ford’s advice to parents sending their children back to school: Get information from authoritative sources.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19, about testing, about the vaccine,” Ford said. “The best thing you can do to protect your child is to keep them away from the virus. This virus is extremely infectious. And it doesn’t take much virus to infect and cause symptoms and disease.”
Masking works, reducing the incidence of transmission and the chances of children getting the virus, he said.
“So first and foremost, masking is going to be one of the best defenses we have,” Ford said.
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