SEATTLE — The American Academy of Pediatrics confirmed nationwide about 72,000 children and teens contracted COVID-19 last week, compared to 39,000 the week before. That is an 84% increase.
Doctors said the highly contagious delta variant is driving up cases.
Dr. John McGuire works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Seattle Children’s. He said they are treating more children with severe cases of COVID-19. He’s seen the uptick in the last few weeks.
“The people we are seeing in the hospital are typically people who are unvaccinated, either teens who are not vaccinated or younger people who are not eligible to be vaccinated,” said McGuire. “We are clearly in a fifth wave here in Washington. And commensurate with that, we are seeing an increase in the number of kids needing hospitalization and needing intensive care.”
He said to protect young children who can’t get vaccinated, other family members must get vaccinated.
According to McGuire, more children are getting colds and other viruses as they start to circulate in the community. He suggests parents get their children tested if they start to show symptoms to determine whether it could be a COVID-19 infection.
“The delta variant is a game charger because it cases more viral load, and we’re seeing people of all ages contracting the delta variant as having many more virus particles that literally overwhelm the system,” said Dr. Bob Lutz, the Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 medical adviser.
He thinks it is likely the number of children with COVID-19 has gone undetected through much of the pandemic because they didn’t show symptoms.
“We’re seeing many more individuals of all ages, children that we hadn’t seen before probably because they had minimal symptoms. Now they have symptoms, and their parents are aware of it; physicians aware of it,” said Lutz.
The increase in cases comes just weeks before school is set to start.
The Department of Health stated it is watching the situation closely and will be cautious when making recommendations as students return to school.
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