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COVID-19 Cases In Young Children Continue To Climb In Florida

Hands wearing blue surgical cloves hold COVID-19 test vial and placing a cotton swab in the mouth of a child.
Tang Ming Tung
Getty Images
Pfizer has clinical trials for children aged 2 to 4 and also babies 6 months to a year. Data is expected for these two groups sometime in October or November.

More children under 12 tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida last week than any other age group, the state reported.

The surge began as students returned to their classrooms earlier this month.

Schools in the greater Tampa Bay region have seen thousands of students test positive for coronavirus, and even more have been sent home to quarantine because they were exposed to the virus.

Then, last week, the state reported that more children under 12 tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida than any other age group.

Children's hospitals like Johns Hopkins All Children's in St. Petersburg have seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases among children, said Dr. Allison Messina, Chief of Infectious Diseases at All Children's.

"To give you an example, in June I think we diagnosed a total of 12 cases,” Messina said. “By July, that was about 180 and in August — and we're not even done counting yet obviously — I think we're already around 400 or more."

In Pinellas County, where All Children's is located, almost 1,600 students have tested positive. In Hillsborough County, there have been more than 4,700 cases among students.

Messina notes that even though Covid-19 vaccinations are not yet approved for children 11 and younger, preventive measures like mask wearing can offer protection.

"Also make sure that all of the older individuals around them in the home are vaccinated,” she said. “So, if you have an 8-year-old, make sure the parents are vaccinated and make sure older siblings are vaccinated. That way you can keep their circle a little bit safer."

Parents should get their child tested if they have symptoms like a fever, cough and sore throat, Messina said.

All Children’s is seeing more kids experiencing respiratory symptoms and testing positive for the virus than they have since the start of the pandemic.

In Friday's weekly report, Florida reported 26,475 new coronavirus cases in children under 12. By comparison, there were 24,000 cases reported for people between the ages of 30 and 39 and 20,019 cases reported for people between the ages of 40 and 49.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
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