Local doctor discusses coronavirus risks for children

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus, according to a new study from the CDC, but that doesn’t mean parents need to let their guard down.

Less than 2% of coronavirus patients nationwide are under the age of 18. The CDC reported most of the children didn’t become severely ill and appeared less likely than adults to show major coronavirus symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath.

“It’s definitely not anything we should take lightly,” said Dr. Nicholas Hysmith, medical director of infection prevention at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital “t’s definitely a possibility that young children have the infection but don’t show symptoms at all and act as a reservoir for that virus and can spread it around.”

He said the unknown is why Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said  it’s important for everyone, including children, to remain vigilant.

“Ensure children wash their hands, and make sure they are not coming in close contact with those at risk, with seniors or those with chronic illnesses,” Haushalter said.

The health department said locally, only a fraction of confirmed cases are children. About 4% of patients are under 20 years old.

The CDC report said children with underlying health conditions seem to have a greater risk, but they noted some information wasn’t available for every case like what symptoms, if any, the child had or if the child went to the hospital.

But the report states about one in five children were hospitalized.

Hysmith said while this report is preliminary, it is helpful.

“I think it can help us look as a system to where we need to focus a majority of our resources,” Hysmith said.

At last check, the CDC reported at least three children have died from COVID-19.

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