AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – In Georgia, there are now more 10 to 17-year-olds that have tested positive for COVID-19 than the population ages 80 or older.
It’s changing how experts think about the virus, but they say it’s not necessarily a cause for panic.
171 — that’s how many kids under 18, officials say, have tested positive at AU Health in the past two weeks.
That means, AU has seen more than 35 percent of their total pediatric cases in the last 14 days alone.
“When we see disease occurring in a particular age group, that tends to spread within that age group because that’s who we spend more time with,” Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer of Augusta University Health, said.
While these numbers may seem scary, Dr. Coule says there are many reasons we shouldn’t panic.
For instance, testing among kids has recently increased.
“There is a testing bias in these numbers, in that we previously have not tested a lot of pediatric patients early on in the pandemic even when they had symptoms,” he explained.
AU recently announced they’ve opened testing sites specifically for pediatric patients. But they say, that project was in the works well before the recent spike.
“We knew with school starting that the demand for testing in pediatric patients was necessary,” Coule said.
And speaking of school, Coule says the latest increase in pediatric cases started before schools opened back up. It’s part of the reason he still supports decisions to reopen for in-person learning.
“This is a balance between the overall greater good. As the parent of a child that is currently going to school in Columbia County right now, she doesn’t learn well at home,” Coule said.
We know the vast majority of children who contract the virus will have very mild symptoms. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about how much they could put us at risk.
“My worry is not as much for that age group, because they do tend to do incredibly well with this disease and it’s very low risk. But really whether or not this serves as a way of transmitting this in the community,” Coule said.
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