COVID-19 cases increasing among children in Orange County

Epidemiologist says more testing could be needed in that age group

A child holds a tube during a saliva COVID-19 testing session at the Niederau school in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, March 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Jean-Francois BADIAS, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With summer approaching, an Orange County epidemiologist is warning that pandemic precautions still need to be taken, especially as the region sees more COVID-19 cases among children.

Alvina Chu from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said the increase in positivity among the 5 to 14 age group has led her to believe that more testing is needed in that segment of the population.

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“So currently nearly one in 10 children ages 5 to 14 years old are testing positive by PCR. The percent positive in this age group continues to increase, indicating that this age group is potentially undertested. Being that this age group generates many close contacts, it’s important that we continue to offer testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses which still continue to circulate,” Chu said.

Knowing that a child is positive for COVID-19 is important to make sure he or she doesn’t go to school or infect their peers in another way.

“I know this is traditionally the time when there are a lot of celebrations for a lot of young persons, and so we just want to continue to remind you that as we are optimistically increasing the vaccinations available to everyone 16 and up with opportunities going into our communities for the underserved populations and under vaccinated populations, we’d like you to continue to practice the pandemic precautions so that we can get a handle on this pandemic before the variants spread,” Chu said.

She cautioned against large gatherings and reminded residents to wear masks, wash their hands and social distance.

Data from the Florida Department of Health shows there’s been a cumulative total of 133,992 COVID-19 cases in the 5 to 14 age group since March 2020, making up about 6% of the state’s 2,085,745 cases among Florida residents in that same time period. That group also accounts for five deaths and 571 hospitalizations.