‘Don’t assume they can’t get it’: More than 800 children have tested positive for COVID-19 in Alaska


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As more and more Alaskans test positive for COVID-19, cases have been confirmed among an increasing number of children statewide. Now, with a new school year and the COVID-19 epidemic still going full force, more information about children and coronaviruses is emerging.

By the end of August, Alaska had 15.3% or 5,298 total 813 cases of total COVID-19 in children or young adults and young children. In contrast, back in May, according to data from the state’s health department, children made up just 8.4% of total cases, with 31 of the state’s 368 cases confirmed.

According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, Alaska has a higher percentage of confirmed COVID-19 cases in children than most other states.

Liz Olson, a staff physician at the state’s Department of Public Health, said it’s hard to compare percentages in states that are working with state and public health officials to help prepare schools and districts for operations during an epidemic Huh.

Although it appears that a high percentage of COVID-19 cases have been detected among children in Alaska, Ohlsen said this does not mean that a child is more likely to have the disease in Alaska vs. another state.

The state has more young people than other states, and test availability in Alaska appears to vary, Ohlsen said. If a child has mild symptoms in Alaska, they may be able to test better than other places, she said.

Dr. Melinda Rathkoff photographed at Eagle River High School on Saturday, August 29, 2020. (Lorraine Holmes / ADN)

“Don’t assume they can’t get it,” Dr. Said Melinda Rathkoff, director of the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska and leader within the chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It’s a myth – they can get it.”

Ohlsen said with the state’s Department of Public Health that the virus can spread to adults and children.

“We are thinking that young children are less likely to get the virus and less likely to pass it on to other people,” Ohelson said. “That doesn’t mean they’re immune, it doesn’t mean they can’t broadcast it.”

Ohelson said that according to a recent study in South Korea, children over the age of 10 can receive and spread coronovirus as easily as adults.

“And the difficult thing is that because children are less likely to have symptoms, they are more likely to give it to other people, without knowing that they are ill,” Ohelson said.

On top of that, Rathkoff said that another concern is that children are spreading the disease to others in the home.

“Your child can get it and bring it to your home, your elderly parents who you care for at home, a siblings who may be at high risk,” she said.

And the symptoms can be vague, so “it’s just a need to increase alertness,” said Rathkoff, such as taking a temperature and a health checkup before bed.

The Medical Officer of the Anchorage Health Department, Dr. Bruce Chandler stated that many of the COVID-19 figures are incomplete, but his “belief is that most children in Anchorage have received infections from adult family and household members,” he wrote in an email.

He said that research suggests that it is common for children to receive COVID-19 from family members who understand who they are with whom they spend the most time.

He said that there have been a few different cases of staff and children in childcare facilities and preschools, but they are not aware of or have spread to those places in the anchorage.

Alaskans are acquiring the virus through rapid community dissemination – giving the disease to people they work with, socialize or live with, compared to earlier in the epidemic when people were picking it up while traveling And were spreading a couple of their closest contacts. Earlier, he had more cases among adults in their 40s and 50s, Ohlsson said.

“As we have seen an increase in community broadcasting, we are actually seeing more cases rising in young Alaskans,” Ohelsen said.

He said the fastest emerging demographic is people in their 20s and 30s, but the state is seeing more cases among people between the ages of 10 and 19.

Ohelsen said many children in Alaska have not been seriously affected. There have been no deaths among children with COVID-19 in the state, with only one hospitalization reported for anyone between the ages of 10 and 19, he said.

Symptoms listed by the COVID-19 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include: fever or chills; cough; Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing; Fatigue; Muscle or body pain; head ache; New loss of taste or smell; Sore throat; Congestion or runny nose; Nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

Olson said the children have mild or no symptoms. And stated that roughly, children have slightly more gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea than adults.

Nationally, children with a severe case of COVID-19 are less likely to end up in a hospital or intensive care unit, but it is possible, even in healthy children and all age groups, that Olson has said.

“It’s rare, but it can be serious,” Rathkoff said.

The Rashkoff said there is a need for children at the third end who need nationwide care, Rashkoff said.

Ohilsen said it is too soon to say whether children who receive COVID-19 will experience long-term effects from the disease and who may show up.

Logan Williams, 8, left, and 9-year-old Orion Jensen, as Gemma Mitchell, 7, experience the right advantage on the stand-up paddleboard, a canoe with instructor Emily Larabee during Trails Discoth Camp at Goose Lake in Anchorage on June 1 . Recommends that children as young as 2 wear masks in a public setting, where social distance is difficult to maintain. (Bill Roth / ADN Collection)

“I think it’s definitely a myth that kids can’t wear masks,” Rathkoff said.

She said that it is important to “normalize wearing masks” and practice other health measures such as washing hands for 20 seconds for children to learn those skills.

In his office, Rathkoff takes the opportunity to show children how to properly apply the mask – just touching the sides and then adjusting it, and pinning it around the nose and forward to keep the glasses from fogging. To pull. The mask should cover the wearer’s nose and mouth, and fit close to the edges of their face without any gaps.

It is important that children will not know how to wear a mask or wash their hands properly, Rathkoff said. But this does not mean that they cannot learn. She sees children with cancer and says that children can learn to wear masks. It just takes some practice.

“Children learn to wear seat belts,” Rathkoff said. “Children learn to wear bicycle helmets.”

When it comes to social disturbances, some schools are “cohabiting” young children who may have trouble remembering to stay 6 feet away, put on masks and wash their hands. As an “extra layer of protection”, they are placing young children in small, small groups to limit possible exposure, she said.

The CDC also lists a range of risk factors for playdates outside of school settings, including whether they occur inside or outside, whether children can live 6 feet apart and how often.

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