Officials with the Florida Department of Health announced Friday that the agency would release weekly reports regarding confirmed pediatric cases of COVID-19 in the state, as well as confirmed cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
The first report was made available the same day and detailed pediatric cases by Florida county and age. Until Friday, the state had not released pediatric data pertaining to COVID-19.
The report also comes the same day that the state hit a single-day record high for most reported coronavirus cases with 1,902 new COVID-19 patients.
The new statistics brought the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Florida since it was first detected in the state on March 1 to 70,971, as well as a total of 2,877 deaths.
According to the report, 3,407 juveniles under the age of 18 have tested positive for COVID-19 since it was detected in the state up until Friday. The state reported it had tested a total of 37,211 juveniles in all.
Of those juveniles tested, 103 were hospitalized for severe cases of the respiratory illness. FDOH officials noted that “hospitalization counts include anyone who was hospitalized at some point during their illness. It does not reflect the number of people currently hospitalized.”
The state reported that no children have died as a result or COVID-19.
Here is how confirmed pediatric cases of COVID-19 break down by age:
|Age group||Total cases||Percent of positive cases|
|Younger than 1 year||218||6%|
Here is how pediatric cases break down by Central Florida county compared to overall confirmed cases as of Friday:
|County||Cases <18 years||Persons <18 years old who tested negative||Total persons <18 years old tested||Total cases in county|
Out of all 64 counties in the state, Dade County reported the highest number of pediatric COVID-19 cases, standing at 621 confirmed cases out of 5,175 juveniles who were tested.
FDOH reported a total of 10 children had developed MIS-C subsequent to confirmed COVID-19 infections.
Surgeon General Scott Rivkees acknowledged that the syndrome, which attacks children and is associated with COVID-19, had surfaced in Florida back in May.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.
Health officials said they do not yet know what causes MIS-C, but said that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19.
The inflammatory syndrome has symptoms that mirror a condition known as Kawasaki syndrome, which, according to the CDC, include fever, rash, swelling of the hands and feet, irritation and redness of the whites of the eyes, swollen lymph glands in the neck and irritation and inflammation of the mouth, lips and throat.
Here is how cases of MIS-C breakdown across Florida:
The report on pediatric cases comes just a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he wants schools to reopen for in-person instruction for fall of 2020.
“We want schools fully open in the fall because there is no better way to educate our kids than have that great teacher in front of that child,” Corcoran said. “We also know that they are not at a low risk, they are at an extremely low risk, not only of contracting (COVID-19), but even spreading it. And so we’re saying, ‘Open up the schools. Let’s get the best educational environment. Let’s keep everybody safe in our educational community and now attack like no other state has before the achievement gap.'”
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Dr. Lindsay Thompson, professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said it has not been proven children are at a lower risk for susceptibility of the disease but preliminary evidence suggests they are.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites, “information about COVID-19 in children is somewhat limited, but current data suggest children with COVID-19 may have only mild symptoms. However, they can still pass this virus onto others who may be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions.”
Therefor, says Thompson, “we don’t know how they spread disease, and we can guess that children are likely to spread the virus like they can other viruses.”
The best defense is to teach children to practice social distancing, good hand washing skills and to wear masks, according to Thompson.
The current data shows the number of positive cases for COVID-19 is lower for children.
“Children have milder disease so far, so have been tested less than adults. For this reason, children have had fewer documented cases,” Thompson said.
Asked about the recent rise in coronavirus cases in Florida and if the state will be ready to open schools this fall, Thompson had this advice.
“The rise in cases right now does seem to correlate with areas reopening. We need to be really careful as we open further, including opening up schools. Educating our children is a top priority but so is ensuring the safety of the whole population,” Thompson said. “Doctors are very concerned about this. My advice is to continue to listen to the CDC and state health departments who have a broad view on rising cases. Certainly we don’t want to induce a second wave; we must remain vigilant.”
“In terms of schools, children are very social, and we as pediatricians worry about high transmission rates with children returning to school. I trust that novel and important social distancing techniques will help education continue in school settings.”