Doctors: Children still at risk from virus when going back to school

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — When it comes to the already emotional debate on the risks of sending children back to school this fall, a new report indicates that children of all ages are susceptible to COVID-19.

“We’re seeing more cases in our children,” said Dr. Nicholas Hysmith, medical director of infection prevention at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. “We are learning more and more about the transmission in children and what the disease severity in children looks like every week.”

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report finds that children might play an important role in the transmission of COVID-19.

“We have seen some new evidence that has come out has talked a little bit about the transmission from child to child,” Dr. Hysmith said. “We think there’s still transmission, especially the age groups that are a little bit older.”

That would include groups such as high schoolers and middle schoolers, but younger children could fare better.

“In the younger kids, it’s like the transmission is there, but the symptoms and the disease severity is not quite as high as the the older population,” Dr. Hysmith said.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Hospital, said parents should not let down their guard.

“Not to exclude the serious cases that can certainly occur in kids; we’ve moved teenagers to the ICU on several occasions, so it does not spare completely the younger age group,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

There’s also concern that children could possibly spread COVID-19 to others in their school.

“When you look at the possibility throughout the school, the kids won’t get as sick, but the teachers and administrators are older and make them at risk for disease and even death,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

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