ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The chief medical officer at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital called the current situation "disappointing but not surprising."
Dr. Joseph Perno laid out various reasons as to why this pandemic is now infiltrating our pediatric population in ways we didn't see before.
The obvious ones: kids under the age of 12 can't get vaccinated yet so the youngest in our population has no immunity. Then you throw in the more transmissive delta variant and more relaxed restrictions — and you're looking at a dangerous scenario for children.
"You could be with someone for a very short span of time and really transmit it. We are definitely seeing those types of cases," said Dr. Peggy Duggan, the executive vice president and chief medical officer at Tampa General Hospital.
According to Perno at Johns Hopkins, their data shows more COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past seven days than any other point during this pandemic.
"Our children who are either not vaccinated or can’t get vaccinated just yet really should be masked to protect them and others," Perno said.
Both Duggan and University of South Florida epidemiologist Dr. Jill Roberts also think unvaccinated children should still be wearing masks.
"Unfortunately, we are definitely going to be going into a world that isn’t really protecting the kids," said Roberts of returning kids to school in August without mask requirements.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends in-person learning this fall for the sake of kids’ mental, emotional and physical health, but Monday the group announced all school staff and children over 2 should wear masks, whether they’re vaccinated or not.
If your child tested positive for COVID-19, Perno said there are few symptoms to look out for if you're trying to figure out if you should take your child to the emergency room. The main ones include struggling to breathe, dehydration (no tears when crying, not wetting enough diapers), or severe lethargy (confusion or can't get out of bed).
Duggan is asking people to be cautious over this next week, especially with unvaccinated children. She thinks we'll have a better idea of how widespread the delta variant is by the end of the week when Florida's numbers either plateau or continue to spike.
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