New York — New York City has detected 38 cases of “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome” — an alarming condition linked with COVID-19, claiming one young life in the Big Apple so far — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.
“There is a rare condition which we’re seeing more of just in the last days and it is causing tremendous concern,” he said at a news conference. “Our health leadership is deeply concerned.”
The case number of 38 is up from the “last count,” when there were 15 instances of the condition, de Blasio said.
Symptoms include persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting, according to health officials.
The city will send an alert describing the symptoms to 1 million parents of public school students and urge them to seek health care if their children show any signs, de Blasio said.
Hospitals will also test children for COVID-19 if they come in with the symptoms. To date, 47% of children with the syndrome tested positive for the virus, according to the mayor. Of those who did not have the virus at the time of their symptoms, 81% tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, showing they previously had it.
A 5-year-old New York City boy died of the syndrome Thursday, according to officials, with two other young New Yorkers dying outside the city. An additional two deaths are under investigation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
The connection between the syndrome and COVID-19 is not fully yet understood, but de Blasio said Sunday that it entails an “intensive, almost overwhelming immune system response that actually causes harm to the body.”
Statewide, there were 85 cases of “what may be a COVID-related illness in children” as of Sunday, according to Cuomo.
The state Department of Health, New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University are analyzing the genetic makeup of the syndrome, the governor announced Saturday.
De Blasio asked the federal government to send more supplies of a drug called remdesivir, which has showed evidence of shortening recovery times for coronavirus patients.
He asked for 39,000 doses for this month, up from the 4,000 the city has received so far.
The comments came after the city’s death toll from coronavirus reached 19,931 on Saturday, according to the city Health Department.
The fatalities include at least 260 city workers, according to de Blasio.
“This includes police officers, correction officers, teachers, EMTs, doctors and nurses, people who have given so much and gave the ultimate sacrifice fighting this disease,” the mayor said.
He said the city would extend health insurance benefits for the victims’ family members by 45 days.
The mayor also called for help for public employees and essential workers in the next spending package from Congress, which has stalled in recent weeks.
“We still need to see more and obviously we need to see that bill voted out,” the mayor said, “but I’m more hopeful that we’re going to see something really significant in that stimulus legislation.”