Kids and COVID-19: No need for parents to be alarmed, says region’s chief pediatrician

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The elderly are most at risk of severe coronavirus complications, but over the last few there’s been a growing evidence that younger, otherwise healthy people can also fall victim.

A New York pediatrician says an alarming 80% of kids likely have coronavirus, but are asymptomatic.

But some leading Mid-South pediatricians have issues with that number and how parents should be reacting.

“I think a number of 80% is a really gross over-exaggeration,”said Dr. Jon McCullers, chief pediatrician at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the dean of clinical affairs at the College of Medicine at UT Health Science Center in Memphis. “Very few kids have it right now, just because they haven’t been in school and exposed to it right now.”

He takes issue with the 80% infection statement.

“Now if we were go through a whole school year, with kids in session and the virus around, I’d believe 80 percent because they’d catch it at school. Right now we’re not seeing it here in the Mid-South,” he said.

At Pediatrics East in Germantown, Dr. Sha-Zia Hussain is a pediatrican who also has issues with there being a high number of children infected with the virus.

Hussain admits there has not been a lot testing because only a small percentage have contracted COVID-19.

“The good news is we’re not testing because they’re not that sick,” she said. “So parents need to understand this is not a bad illness in the pediatric population.”

A CDC report published April 6 titled “Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children” says, although most cases reported among children to date have not been severe, clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19 infection in children.

“I wouldnt’ worry about infection for the kids right now,” McCullers said. “What I would worry about, if we have elderly grandparents in the household, others who might be exposed to children bringing it back into the household or college-age kids.”

Both doctors stress practicing social distancing and good hygeine, but they say there’s no need for parents to be alarmed.

“Listen to your pediatrician in chief: There’s no reason to be alarmed right now,” McCullers said.

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