ORLANDO, Fla. – Nearly one-third of every person under the age of 18 tested for coronavirus in Florida is positive for the virus, according to a report on Friday.
Palm Beach County Health Department Manager, Dr. Alina Alonso, warned county commissioners on Tuesday about the potential long-term health consequences for children catching COVID-19. She said the virus could cause lifelong harm even to children with mild illnesses.
“They see that there is damage to the lungs of these asymptomatic children. “We do not know how it will manifest one year from now or two years from now,” Alonso told the Sun-Sentinel. “Will that child have chronic lung problems or not?”
Florida tested 54,022 Florida residents under the age of 18, according to the state’s COVID-19 pediatric report on July 10. Of these tests, 16,777 or just over 31 percent returned positive. At the same time, the positivity rate for Florida’s entire population is about 11 percent.
“This is not the virus you collect everyone to make sure you catch it and take it over,” Alonso told the newspaper. “This is something serious, and we learn new information about this virus every day.”
Fear from Alonso comes when the Ron DeSantis government pressures students to return to the classroom in the fall.
“My children are three, two and newborns, so they’re just too young to be in school now, but if they were 7, 6 and 5 I would have no problem, I would see it as an incredibly low risk,” he said. DeSantis during a press conference on Friday.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said last month that children and adolescents were “less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have a serious illness” as a result of a COVID-19 infection. As of Tuesday, 4,514 coronavirus deaths have been reported in Sunshine State, four of whom are younger than 18.
Still, the AAP and three other groups wrote on Friday: “We should leave it to health experts to tell them when it’s best time to open school buildings.”
An April study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that children under the age of 18 accounted for less than two percent of reported cases in the United States, even though they make up about 22 percent of the population.
Meanwhile, the CDC issued an advisory back in May regarding a serious inflammatory condition found in children believed to be associated with the coronavirus. Doctors describe the inflammatory condition (MIS-C) that is similar to Kawasaki disease, a rare disease that causes swelling in medium-sized arteries throughout the body.
The pediatric report shows 13 such cases in Florida in children under 18 years of age.
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