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Trust Index: Are children at ‘extremely low risk’ for coronavirus?

More than 3,400 children have contracted COVID-19 since March

When announcing that Florida schools will re-open in full capacity in August, Florida’s Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran made this comment about children and coronavirus: “They are at an extremely low risk not only of contracting it but even spreading it. All of that data is in."

Dr. Jenna Wheeler is a pediatric critical care physician at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

“I don’t think there’s any data that shows they’re at extremely low risk,” Wheeler said. “I think especially here in the United States, we need a little more time to be looking at that data before we can say that with certainty."

According to data from the Florida Department of Health, there have been 3,407 cases of coronavirus in children ages 0-17.

There have also been 103 hospitalizations in that age group, but no deaths.

News 6 asked if one of the reasons the number of cases is lower in children is because children have not been in school.

“We’ve done a good job of keeping our kids home. Schools have been out. Day cares have been closed, so children really haven’t had as much of an exposure risk presumably as adults have,” Wheeler said.

Dr. Michael Keating is the chief medical officer at Advent Health for Children.

“Symptomatically, it’s not sure whether they’re any less prone to be actually infected but they appear to be much less prone to get ill,” Keating said.

“But like with any illness, there’s always some kids that are going to get sick and they’re going to get seriously ill,” Wheeler said.

Lindsay Thompson is professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

"Preliminary evidence may suggest lower susceptibility in younger children, but this has not been proven," Thompson said.

"Children seem to overall have a milder illness with COVID-19 disease, although some children, like adults, are still at risk for severe disease," Thompson said.

"They also can contract COVID-19 disease without having symptoms," she said.

Based on state data and independent statements from three pediatricians, we give the Education Commissioner’s comments that children are at extremely low risk of contracting coronavirus: Be careful on the trust index.

All of the medical experts we have spoken with say masks reduce transmission rates.

They believe everyone should wear them including children, although they agree it’s more difficult to get kids to wear them.

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