Are Kids Dying With COVID-19?

How many children have died with COVID-19?

Breaking News – The latest report from the CDC lists 5 new MISC deaths and at least 666 pediatric COVID-19 deaths. (see below)

You have likely heard that COVID-19 is not supposed to make children sick, so what’s with the reports that kids are dying with COVID-19?

“Whereas most COVID-19 cases in children are not severe, serious COVID-19 illness resulting in hospitalization still occurs in this age group.”

Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children — United States, February 12–April 2, 2020

So far, while only about 13% of cases in the United States have occurred in children and teens who are less than 18 years old, many of those “pediatric COVID-19 cases were hospitalized.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports at least 542 child deaths from COVID-19.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports at least 542 child deaths from COVID-19.

Some were even admitted to the ICU and tragically, some have died.

Are Kids Dying With COVID-19?

How many kids?

So far, as of mid-October, there have nearly 4,842,000 COVID-19 deaths worldwide (all ages), including over 703,000 deaths in the United States (all ages).

And some of those deaths have been in children.

It’s important to note that some these recent COVID-19 deaths in children are still being investigated, but according to reports they include:

The latest reports of COVID-19 deaths, during the Delta surge, include:

Experts have still not confirmed that COVID-19 caused all of these deaths.

Kids are dying with COVID-19.
Kids are dying with COVID-19.

Still, the AAP reports that there have been at least 542 COVID-19 deaths in children in the United States and cases are on the rise in many areas.

While there are far fewer COVID-19 deaths in children than in adults, since fewer kids are reportedly getting infected, the number of deaths is very concerning.

“Among the 121 decedents, 30 (25%) were previously healthy (no reported underlying medical condition), 91 (75%) had at least one underlying medical condition, and 54 (45%) had two or more underlying medical conditions.”

SARS-CoV-2–Associated Deaths Among Persons Aged <21 Years — United States, February 12–July 31, 2020

And that’s why it is important to continue to encourage your kids to get vaccinated if they are eligible, wear a mask, and follow all social distancing recommendations.

The latest report from the CDC lists at least 666 pediatric COVID-19 deaths.
The latest report from the CDC lists at least 645 666 pediatric COVID-19 deaths.

Keep in mind that there have been an additional 41 46 deaths in children from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which is associated with COVID-19.

How Many Kids Have Died With Covid-19?

So just how many kids have died with COVID-19?

We still don’t have exact numbers, but it is easy to see that well over 200 nearly 300 children over 400 500 600 children have died with COVID-19.

More on COVID-19 Deaths

Mask Exemptions for Kids During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If your child doesn’t want to wear a face mask, your pediatric provider might be able to offer more help than just an exemption.

Some parents who don’t want their kids to wear a mask at school might think about asking their pediatrician to write a mask exemption for their kids.

You can easily spread what you don't know you have... Remember, you can be contagious a few days before you have symptoms of COVID-19, which is why mask exemptions for kids aren't a good idea unless they are medically necessary. #BeInformed
You can easily spread what you don’t know you have… Remember, you can be contagious a few days before you have symptoms of COVID-19, which is why mask exemptions for kids aren’t a good idea unless they are medically necessary. #BeInformed

Before they do, they might understand that there are very few real medical reasons for these types of exemptions for wearing a mask.

Masks Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2

More and more, we are learning that masks can help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, protecting both the person wearing the mask and the people around them.

“The prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer. The relationship between source control and personal protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic, so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use.”

Scientific Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2

Still, that doesn’t mean that everyone has gotten used to wearing them…

Hopefully, most folks do now understand why they are important though.

Wait, why are they important, especially if you are healthy and the people around you don’t have COVID-19?

Mostly it is because people with COVID-19 can be contagious:

  • up to two days before they start to show symptoms
  • up to two days before they test positive, even if they don’t have any symptoms

So if you are waiting to put on a mask until people around you have symptoms, then you will eventually get exposed, probably without even knowing it, and you might get sick, ending up in isolation, not being able to go to school or work.

And if you wait to put on a mask until you start to show symptoms, then you will likely eventually expose other people to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The alternative, if you want to reduce your risk of getting sick, is to just wear a mask any time that you can’t social distance (stay at least six feet apart) from other people.

Mask Exemptions for Kids During the COVID-19 Pandemic

So what are the medical reasons that kids, like adults, can’t wear a mask all day while they are at school?

“The Department supports actions by the airline industry to have procedures in place requiring passengers to wear masks in accordance with the CDC Order, CDC guidance, and TSA SD. At the same time, the ACAA and Part 382, which are enforced by OACP, require airlines to make reasonable accommodations, based on individualized assessments, for passengers with disabilities who are unable to wear or safely wear a mask due to their disability.”

Notice of Enforcement Policy: Accommodation by Carriers of Persons With Disabilities Who Are Unable to Wear Or Safely Wear Masks While On Commercial Aircraft

In general, a child over age two years should wear a face mask unless:

  • they have a physical or intellectual condition that would keep them from being able to remove their face mask by themselves
  • they can’t tolerate wearing a face mask because they have a condition such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, or a mental health disorder
  • they have a physical or intellectual condition and wearing a cloth face mask gets in the way of their ability to communicate

But shouldn’t these kids just do virtual school if they can’t wear a mask, instead of getting an exemption?

While that might be an option for some kids, others need the extra services that they get at school, which they can’t get with at home schooling.

In addition to a face mask exemption, some things that might work in some situations when a child won’t wear a mask include:

  • a face shield
  • a transparent face mask
  • using different fabrics for the mask
  • trying a bandana or gaiter
  • try to desensitize your child to wearing a mask

What about asthma?

In general, most kids with well controlled asthma should be able to wear a face mask. If your child’s asthma is so severe that it is made worse by wearing a face mask, then they likely need an evaluation by a pulmonologist and it might be best to avoid being around others during the pandemic.

If your child can wear a face mask, but just doesn’t want to, then it might help to allow them to pick their own mask, with a comfortable fabric and fit, maybe even getting a mask with a favorite character on it.

“Model it! Make it familiar by wearing a mask too.”

Getting Your Child to Wear a Mask

And don’t expect your child to want to wear a mask at school if you don’t wear a mask when you go out or if you don’t believe that wearing a mask is necessary.

More on Mask Exemptions

The Latest on Masks to Keep Kids From Getting COVID

Face masks work to prevent the transmission of COVID and can help keep kids, many of whom are too young to be vaccinated, from getting COVID.

That kids wearing face masks to keep them from getting COVID is controversial is amazing to many people, especially pediatricians.

Why wouldn’t you want your kids to wear a mask if it could protect them?

The Latest on Masks to Keep Kids From Getting COVID

And yes, the data does show that wearing a mask is safe and protects kids from getting COVID…

Need some proof?

Let’s take a look at what’s happening in Texas.

A few weeks ago, there were 86 active staff and 708 active student cases in GISD.
A few weeks ago, there were 86 active staff and 708 active student cases in GISD.

In one north Texas school district that opened early, on August 2, they now have 67 active staff cases and 564 active student cases.

While that’s a lot, it is important to keep in mind that as cases are continuing to rise in most other school districts, leading to more than a few temporary school closures, they are actually dropping in GISD!

Why?

Staff and students in GISD are wearing masks and their active case counts are dropping!
Staff and students in GISD are wearing masks and their active case counts are dropping! They also limit the capacity for indoor and outdoor events once positivity rates get too high.

It is almost certainly because their staff and students are wearing masks!

Masks Save Lives

Wearing a mask can protect the person wearing the mask and the people around them.

Need more proof that masks work?

Wearing a mask is especially important to protect those who are too young to get vaccinated and those who have a true medical contraindication to getting vaccinated against COVID.

“When used in conjunction with widespread testing, contact tracing, quarantining of anyone that may be infected, hand washing, and physical distancing, face masks are a valuable tool to reduce community transmission.”

An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19

Wearing a mask is also important as COVID variants surge, some of which are more infectious, even to those who are fully vaccinated.

Masks save lives.

“Without interventions in place, the vast majority of susceptible students will become infected through the semester.”

COVID-19 Projections for K12 Schools in Fall 2021: Significant Transmission without Interventions

Parents should ignore the misinformation and disinformation about facemasks and COVID-19.

“To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”

Use Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

In addition to social distancing, they should wear a mask and should encourage their kids who are at least two years old to wear masks in school and when in public around a lot of other people.

More on Masks Save Lives

Treating Kids with COVID Monoclonal Antibodies

While anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies have an EUA for older, high risk children with COVID, they are not routinely recommended by most experts.

While you are likely used to hearing that there are no real cures or treatments for COVID, a few treatments do have emergency use authorization, including monoclonal antibody therapy.

“Monoclonal antibodies that target the spike protein have been shown to have a clinical benefit in treating SARS-CoV-2 infection. Preliminary data suggest that monoclonal antibodies may play a role in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in household contacts of infected patients and during skilled nursing and assisted living facility outbreaks.”

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies

And they are available for use in kids who are at least 12 years old!

Treating Kids with COVID Monoclonal Antibodies

So why doesn’t everyone with COVID get treated with these monoclonal antibodies?

“Three anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody products currently have Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in nonhospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease and/or hospitalization.”

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies

In general, they are mainly used in those older children (at least 12 years of age) and adults who are at high risk for severe disease.

“When using monoclonal antibodies, treatment should be started as soon as possible after the patient receives a positive result on a SARS-CoV-2 antigen or nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) and within 10 days of symptom onset.”

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies

Also, ideally, treatment with monoclonal antibodies should be started very early, but even more importantly, it involves an IV infusion. So it is not something that your pediatrician will likely be able to give your child in their office.

So where can you get these monoclonal antibodies?

Monoclonal antibody therapeutic treatments have been distributed to hospitals and infusion centers around the country. You can hopefully find a treatment location nearby if you need to get your high risk child treated.

How do you know if your child is high risk?

People aged 12 or older may be considered at high risk for developing more serious symptoms—making them eligible for mAb treatment—depending on their health history and how long they’ve had symptoms of COVID-19.
People aged 12 or older may be considered at high risk for developing more serious symptoms—making them eligible for mAb treatment—depending on their health history and how long they’ve had symptoms of COVID-19.

Does your child who is at least 12 years old have chronic kidney disease, diabetes, heart problems, chronic lung disease, including moderate to severe asthma and cystic fibrosis, etc., sickle cell disease, a neurodevelopmental disorder, including cerebral palsy, or have a medical device (tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation, etc.)? Are they immunosuppressed? Are they overweight, with a BMI above the 85th percentile for their age?

Talk to your pediatrician if you aren’t sure if your child is high risk and if you need help finding COVID monoclonal antibodies for your child.

Treating Kids with COVID Monoclonal Antibodies?

You may also want to ask if getting your child treated with monoclonal antibodies is something you really should do…

“Currently, there is insufficient evidence for utility, safety, or efficacy to recommend the routine use of monoclonal antibody therapy for children and adolescents with COVID-19, even those considered to be at higher risk of hospitalization or severe disease. At this time, neither bamlanivimab nor casirivimab plus imdevimab should be considered standard of care in any pediatric population, even in patients who meet high-risk criteria. There are no data supporting safety and efficacy in children or adolescents, and the evidence supporting use in the adult population (including young adults) is modest and/or unpublished and has limited applicability to pediatrics or to many specified risk groups.”

Initial Guidance on Use of Monoclonal Antibody Therapy for Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children and Adolescents

And know, that while monoclonal antibody treatments do have EUA for older children, a panel of pediatric experts has recommended against their routine use.

So get your kids vaccinated now and don’t think you can rely on monoclonal antibodies if they get sick…

More on COVID Treatments

What to Do if You Have Been Exposed to COVID-19

Folks need to understand that they should begin self-quarantine as soon as they learn that they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Do you know what to do if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

Because they could have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, anyone who attended the party should self-isolate.
Because they could have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, anyone who attended the party should self-isolate.

Hopefully you already know that you shouldn’t go to a party and expose lots of other folks…

What to Do if You Have Been Exposed to COVID-19

Unfortunately, lots of mistakes are being made that are causing COVID-19 cases to again rise.

“For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.”

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

One of them is that many people simply don’t understand the importance of self-quarantining themselves for 14 days (or consider one of the options to shorten your quarantine) after they have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 if they aren’t fully vaccinated.

In addition to watching for symptoms, it is important to self-quarantine for 14 days after a COVID-19 exposure, the incubation period for SARS-CoV-2, something the Florida Department of Health forgets to mention...
In addition to watching for symptoms, it is important to self-quarantine for 14 days after a COVID-19 exposure, the incubation period for SARS-CoV-2, something the Florida Department of Health forgets to mention…

What happens if you don’t self-quarantine?

You may expose others in the days before you start to show symptoms (presymptomatic transmission).

But can’t you just get tested after your exposure to see if you have it?

Sure, you can get tested, but if it is negative and you are early in your incubation period, it doesn’t mean that you still won’t become sick later on. For example, you could have a negative COVID-19 test four days after being exposed to the virus, but then develop symptoms of COVID-19 two days later.

“Yes, you are still considered a close contact even if you were wearing a cloth face covering while you were around someone with COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are meant to prevent someone from transmitting the disease to others, and not to protect someone from becoming infected.”

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

What if you’re not sure if you have COVID-19 and you are waiting on your test results?

That should be a no-brainer.

Self-isolate yourself why you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results!

Ideally, folks would be getting this information to self-quarantine after their COVID-19 exposure from a contact tracing team.
Ideally, folks would be getting this information to self-quarantine after their COVID-19 exposure from a contact tracing team.

And if you think you have COVID-19, be sure to tell all of your close contacts, which includes everyone who was within 6 feet of you for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before you began feeling sick.

Of course, social distancing and wearing a mask are important too.

But folks need to understand that they should begin to self-quarantine as soon as they learn that they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. That’s the easiest way to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the size of outbreaks.

More on COVID-19

What to Do if You Have Been Diagnosed with COVID-19

Do you know what to do if you get diagnosed with COVID-19?

Do you know what to do if you think you might be sick or have already been diagnosed with COVID-19?

What's worse than having a party when you have symptoms of COVID-19? How about refusing to cooperate with contact tracers who are trying to control an outbreak?
What’s worse than having a party when you have symptoms of COVID-19? How about refusing to cooperate with contact tracers who are trying to control an outbreak?

Hopefully you know that you shouldn’t host a party and expose lots of other folks…

What to Do if You Have Been Diagnosed with COVID-19

Unfortunately, lots of mistakes are being made that are causing COVID-19 cases to again rise.

“For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.”

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

One of them is that many people simply don’t understand the importance of staying away from others if they have been diagnosed (isolation) or exposed (self-quarantine) to SARS-CoV-2.

“If possible, have the person who is sick use a separate bedroom and bathroom. If possible, have the person who is sick stay in their own ‘sick room’ or area and away from others. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from the sick person.”

Caring for Someone Sick at Home

What happens if you don’t stay away from other people?

You may expose others, beginning in the days before you start to show symptoms (presymptomatic transmission).

Ideally, folks would be getting this information to self-quarantine after their COVID-19 exposure from a contact tracing team.
Ideally, folks would be getting this information to self-quarantine after their COVID-19 exposure from a contact tracing team.

Once you are diagnosed with COVID-19, be sure to tell all of your close contacts that they have been exposed, which includes everyone who was within 6 feet of you for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before you began feeling sick. That way, if they aren’t fully vaccinated, then they can begin to self-quarantine and avoid exposing others if they get sick too.

How Long Will Your Quarantine Last?

How long will you have to stay home, away from other people?

It depends…

The CDC provides a variety of scenarios to help explain how long folks should stay in quarantine.
The CDC provides a variety of scenarios to help explain how long folks should stay in quarantine.

If you are in self-quarantine because you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, then you should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with that person. That’s the incubation period for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Keep in mind that your quarantine restarts every time you have a new exposure, although there are now options to shorten your quarantine.

On the other hand, if you are in isolation because you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, then you should stay home until:

  • at least 10 days have passed since your positive test (if you have been asymptomatic)
  • you are fever free for at least three days, have improving respiratory symptoms, and it has been at least 10 days since your symptoms began

You might also be able to end your quarantine early if you have two negative tests in a row at least 24 hours apart, of course, while fever free and with improving respiratory symptoms.

If You Have COVID-19

What if you need to go to the doctor or ER after you have been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Call ahead so that they can be prepared and don’t end up exposing any staff or patients.

Hopefully you will have mild symptoms that will go away as you rest and stay hydrated, but if you develop emergency warning signs or symptoms (trouble breathing, chest pain, confusion, and trouble staying awake, etc.), then seek emergency care, being sure to mention that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

What if you need to go somewhere else?

You shouldn’t go anywhere or be around other people if you are in isolation after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).”

Isolate If You Are Sick

When in isolation, you should stay home except to get medical care.

What if you need food, medicine, or something else that you don’t have in your home? Ideally, you would order it and have it delivered, being sure to not expose the delivery person. If that isn’t an option, call your local support services for help.

More on COVID-19

What is the COVID-19 Multi-System Inflammatory State?

Are kids with COVID-19 developing symptoms of Kawasaki disease?

Breaking News – The CDC reports at least 1,000 confirmed cases of MIS-C and 20 deaths in the United States. (see below)

Kids aren’t supposed to get serious COVID-19 symptoms, right?

As we are learning more and more about SARS-CoV-2, that seems to be holding true most of the time.

That doesn’t mean that kids are unaffected though.

Remember, it is still thought that kids get asymptomatic infections that they can spread to everyone else. And tragically, they sometimes get life-threatening infections.

What is the COVID-19 Multi-System Inflammatory State?

What else are we seeing when kids get SARS-CoV-2?

As they reassure parents that “serious illness as a result of COVID 19 still appears to be a very rare event in children,” the Paediatric Intensive Care Society issued a statement discussing an NHS England email alert about kids presenting with a type of multi-system inflammatory disease.

“The alert indicated ‘the cases have in common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters consistent with severe COVID-19 in children. Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms have been a common feature as has cardiac inflammation’.”

PICS Statement: Increased number of reported cases of novel presentation of multi-system inflammatory disease

This statement followed the release of a study in Hospital Pediatrics, COVID-19 and Kawasaki Disease: Novel Virus and Novel Case, that discussed a similar case.

“We describe the case of a 6-month-old infant admitted and diagnosed with classic Kawasaki disease (KD), who also screened positive for COVID-19 in the setting of fever and minimal respiratory symptoms.”

Jones et al on COVID-19 and Kawasaki Disease: Novel Virus and Novel Case

And an alert of more frequent cases of Kawasaki disease in France and Italy.

“In several Italian centers, where the incidence of Covid-19 was higher – Professor Ravelli told ANSA – more frequent cases of Kawasaki disease have occurred than we have observed before the arrival of the coronavirus.”

Coronavirus: Prof. Ravelli, investigation of Kawasaki disease report (google translated)

And New York.

“The NYC Health Department contacted PICUs in NYC during April 29-May 3, 2020 and identified 15 patients aged 2-15 years who had been hospitalized from April 17-May 1,2020 with illnesses compatible with this syndrome (i.e., typical Kawasaki disease, incomplete Kawasaki disease, and/or shock).”

2020 Health Alert #13: Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19

Following a report of 15 cases in New York City, the New York State Department of Health issued an advisory to healthcare providers about 64 potential cases throughout the state.

As of 8/20/2020, CDC has received reports of 694 confirmed cases of MIS-C and 11 deaths in 42 states, New York City, and Washington, DC. Additional cases are under investigation.
As of 8/20/2020, CDC has received reports of 694 confirmed cases of MIS-C and 11 deaths in 42 states, New York City, and Washington, DC. Additional cases are under investigation.

And next came an alert from the CDC on what they are calling multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

MIS-C case definition

Most people will find the MIS-C case definition more helpful than the new name.

Also helpful is a recommendation to “report suspected cases to their local, state, or territorial health department.”

“This syndrome has features which overlap with Kawasaki Disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome. Inflammatory markers may be elevated, and fever and abdominal symptoms may be prominent. Rash also may be present. Myocarditis and other cardiovascular changes may be seen. Additionally, some patients have developed cardiogenic or vasogenic shock and required intensive care. This inflammatory syndrome may occur days to weeks after acute COVID-19 illness.”

Health Advisory: Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated With Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) in Children

So what does this mean?

It may means that we can add SARS-CoV-2 to the list of possible viruses that can trigger Kawasaki disease.

“Various studies have described an association between viral respiratory infections and KD, ranging from 9% to as high as 42% of patients with KD testing positive for a respiratory viral infection in the 30-days leading up to diagnosis of KD.”

Jones et al on COVID-19 and Kawasaki Disease: Novel Virus and Novel Case

And continue to be reassured that “serious illness as a result of COVID-19 still appears to be a very rare event in children.”

“If the above-described inflammatory syndrome is suspected, pediatricians should immediately refer patients to a specialist in pediatric infectious disease, rheumatology, and/or critical care,as indicated. Early diagnosis and treatment of patients meeting full or partial criteria for Kawasaki disease is critical to preventing end-organ damage and other long-term complications. Patients meeting criteria for Kawasaki disease should be treated with intravenous immunoglobulin and aspirin”

2020 Health Alert #13: Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19

Still, everyone should be on the alert for MIS-C, especially as COVID-19 cases once again surge.

More on COVID-19 in Kids

Where is COVID-19 Spreading Now?

Since SARS-CoV-2 is spreading wherever a lot of people are getting together, you must adapt to life with COVID-19 now, so that you will still be around when COVID-19 is finally gone.

As cases start to surge again and countries are reentering lockdown, you might be asking yourself just who is spreading COVID-19 around now?

Is it political rallies, protestors, or kids going to school?

Where is COVID-19 Spreading Now?

In addition to very large gatherings, like political rallies, some folks might be surprised to learn that COVID-19 is now spreading:

  • after religious events and holidays
  • in daycare centers and schools
  • among recreational, high school, and college sports teams
  • at very large gatherings (>50 people), including funerals and weddings, some of which turn into superspreading events
  • at large gatherings (>10 people) of family and friends

Not surprisingly, SARS-CoV-2 is spreading wherever a lot of people are getting together.

Hopefully, understanding that can help us all avoid getting sick with COVID-19!

“Regardless of the origin of superspreading, we emphasize the particular fragility of a disease in which a major part of infections are caused by the minority. If this is the case, the disease is vulnerable to mitigation by reducing the number of different people that an individual meets within an infectious period. The significance is clear; Everybody can still be socially active, but generally only with relatively few – on the order of ten persons. Importantly, our study further demonstrates that repeated contact with interconnected groups (such as at a work-place or in friend groups) is comparatively less damaging than repeated contacts to independent people.”

Superspreaders provide essential clues for mitigation of COVID-19

Remember, the pandemic isn’t over yet.

If anything, we are heading into another big wave in most parts of the world.

And although COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, they won’t be hear quick enough to stop it.

A positive COVID-19 rapid test.
A positive COVID-19 rapid test.

Only you can stop it by social distancing from others as much as possible (stay at least 6 feet away), wearing a mask (yes, masks still work despite the new study some folks are talking about), and washing your hands regularly.

Most importantly, understand that:

  • someone can be contagious for up to two days before they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or they test positive and will continue to be contagious for at least 10 more days, their isolation period
  • if exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should avoid others and go into self-quarantine for at least 14 days after your last contact, as that is the incubation period (the time from exposure to when you might develop symptoms)
  • in addition to those who are sick before they develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic), some are contagious even though they never develop symptoms (asymptomatic transmission)
  • you can’t test out of your quarantine after being exposed
  • there are no good treatments and there is definitely no cure for COVID-19

And know that COVID-19 can be life-threatening, especially for folks who are in high risk groups, including those who are elderly and anyone with chronic health problems.

What does all of this mean?

That you have to adapt to life with COVID-19 now, so that you will still be around when COVID-19 is finally gone.

More on the Spread of COVID-19

Are Kids Spreading SARS-CoV-2 in School and Daycare Centers

If kids aren’t spreading SARS-CoV-2, then why are three percent of the students at a high school in Texas sick with COVID-19?

Why are people starting to think that kids are spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causing COVID-19, in school and daycare centers?

There have been over 500,000 cases of COVID-19 in children in the United States.
There have been over 500,000 cases of COVID-19 in children in the United States.

Probably because we are seeing more and more cases in kids, especially kids in daycare centers and schools in states with spiking cases.

SARS-CoV-2 in School and Daycare Centers

For example, let’s take a look at what’s going on in Texas…

“As of Friday, 410 total cases of coronavirus — 267 staff members and 143 children — had been reported at 318 licensed child care operations across the state, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.”

Texas child care centers see sharp increase in coronavirus cases after months of relative calm

So far in Texas, 83% of child care centers (12,196 facilities are open) haven’t reported a COVID-19 case.

But 17% have…

Either in a child or adult.

Altogether, since March, there have been 1,271 cases in children and 2,416 cases in adults in 2,034 different daycare centers in Texas.

So far the largest cluster was in a Houston daycare, in which 17 adult staff members and 6 kids tested positive.

In another large cluster, in Pleasanton, 11 kids, but only 2 adult staff members tested positive.

COVID-19 has also already led to several school closures in Texas, just weeks after the start of the fall semester.

In one high school in East Texas, the number of active COVID-19 cases has already reached 3%. The school was only open for about three and a half weeks before having to move to online only education.

Are Kids Spreading SARS-CoV-2 in School and Daycare Centers?

A rise in cases in daycare centers doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the kids that are doing the spreading though.

Are staff members getting exposed and bringing SARS-CoV-2 to work with them, exposing the children? Or are the children acting as the spreaders?

A new study, Transmission Dynamics of COVID-19 Outbreaks Associated with Child Care Facilities — Salt Lake City, Utah, April–July 2020, provides some answers.

Children who likely got COVID-19 at two Utah daycare centers spread it to other family members at home.

These outbreaks all started with an infected staff member, but quickly spread to other staff members and children.

“Analysis of contact tracing data in Salt Lake County, Utah, identified outbreaks of COVID-19 in three small to large child care facilities linked to index cases in adults and associated with transmission from children to household and nonhousehold contacts. In these three outbreaks, 54% of the cases linked to the facilities occurred in children. Transmission likely occurred from children with confirmed COVID-19 in a child care facility to 25% of their nonfacility contacts.”

Transmission Dynamics of COVID-19 Outbreaks Associated with Child Care Facilities — Salt Lake City, Utah, April–July 2020

Not surprisingly, cases then spread outside the daycare centers, to some of the parents of these children and other family members at home.

Of course, that this study found evidence that children can spread SARS-CoV-2 isn’t surprising because it isn’t the first to make this claim.

“These findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission. Asymptomatic infection was common and potentially contributed to undetected transmission, as has been previously reported.”

SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Infection Among Attendees of an Overnight Camp — Georgia, June 2020.

There is also the report about children at the overnight camp in Georgia in June, which found an overall attack rate of 44% among the campers.

And the report about the Rhode Island COVID-19 daycare outbreaks.

“A total of 101 possible child care–associated COVID-19 cases were reported during June 1–July 31. Among them, 49 (49%) symptomatic persons were excluded after receiving negative laboratory test results, 33 persons (33%) had confirmed cases, and 19 (19%) were classified as having probable cases.”

Limited Secondary Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Child Care Programs — Rhode Island, June 1–July 31, 2020

Fortunately, community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was lower in Rhode Island than many other states at the time, which is likely why “possible secondary transmission was identified in four of the 666 programs that had been allowed to reopen,” and not more.

Of course, these results stand in contrast to early reports in other countries which found that children didn’t seem to be spreading SARS-CoV-2.

“These data all suggest that children are not significant drivers of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unclear why documented SARS-CoV-2 transmission from children to other children or adults is so infrequent.”

COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame

Early reports that were maybe flawed because children simply weren’t being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 at the time because of school closures and other factors.

“Here, we report that replication of SARS-CoV-2 in older children leads to similar levels of viral nucleic acid as adults, but significantly greater amounts of viral nucleic acid are detected in children younger than 5 years.”

Age-Related Differences in Nasopharyngeal Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Levels in Patients With Mild to Moderate Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

So with conflicting reports, what are we to believe?

What to Know About Kids Spreading SARS-CoV-2

We will have to see more research, but with cases continuing to increase in daycare centers, schools, and colleges, it is very hard to believe that kids aren’t spreaders of SARS-CoV-2.

Not that they have to be…

There is an easy way to keep kids from spreading SARS-CoV-2 at daycare, school, and college.

Even easier than making them wear masks.

A recent study in Germany found that child-to-child transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools/childcare facilities appeared very uncommon, but this was at a time of very low rates of community transmission.
A recent study in Germany found that child-to-child transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools/childcare facilities appeared very uncommon, but this was at a time of very low rates of community transmission.

Yes, that’s keeping the COVID-19 case count down in your community!

More on Kids Spreading COVID-19

Fact Check – Did a Doctor Prove That Face Masks Don’t Work?

A recently uploaded video on YouTube by an anesthesiologist doesn’t prove that face masks don’t work to protect people against COVID-19.

Why do some people still think that face masks don’t work to protect them and others against COVID-19 infections?

Ted Noel did not prove that face masks don't work in his YouTube video.
Ted Noel did not prove that face masks don’t work in his YouTube video.

The usual suspects…

Did a Doctor Prove That Face Masks Don’t Work?

Of course, most people understand that face masks work well to protect us from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 infections.

“Face masks are a simple way to help decrease coronavirus transmission and save lives.”

Which type of face mask is most effective against COVID-19?

Sure, not all types of face coverings are created equal, but if you are wearing a face mask when you can’t social distance, then you will help to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

And no, despite his claims and video on YouTube, Dr. Ted Noel, a retired anesthesiologist, did not prove that face masks don’t work!

As an anesthesiologist with 36 years of experience, you would think he would understand how a surgical mask is supposed to fit...
As an anesthesiologist with 36 years of experience, you would think he would understand how a surgical mask is supposed to fit…

What did he prove?

If you are vaping and exhale through a poorly fit face mask, then, not surprisingly, the “vape smoke” is going to find a way around your mask!

Will it go through your face mask ?

Again, not surprisingly, it depends on the type of face mask.

This is probably a single layer cloth mask and not one made with a recommended two or three layers.
This is probably a single layer cloth mask and not one made with a recommended two or three layers.

In Ted Noel’s little experiment, you can see that his cloth mask didn’t perform very well.

Interestingly, someone else had already done this face mask experiment and got widely different results!

Doctors Who Proved That Face Masks Do Work

And these results that face masks work have been shown in much more sophisticated experiments using high tech equipment, including high speed cameras and laser light scattering.

How much protection your face mask offers depends on the type of mask, but you can clearly see that face masks work!
How much protection your face mask offers depends on the type of mask, but you can clearly see that face masks work!

These experiments confirm that face coverings can block aerosols and droplets when we cough, sneeze, and breath. And since viruses like COVID-19 are carried on these droplets, they prove that masks work.

Well most face masks…

To make sure your face mask works effectively, you should:

  • use a face covering made of at least two layers of a washable, breathable fabric
  • avoid face masks with valves
  • use a properly fitting face mask instead of a neck gaiter or bandanna
  • avoid face coverings made with fleece
  • wash your cloth face mask

And don’t listen to or share misinformation from folks pushing propaganda about COVID-19.

“Among 139 clients exposed to two symptomatic hair stylists with confirmed COVID-19 while both the stylists and the clients wore face masks, no symptomatic secondary cases were reported; among 67 clients tested for SARS-CoV-2, all test results were negative. Adherence to the community’s and company’s face-covering policy likely mitigated spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

Absence of Apparent Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Two Stylists After Exposure at a Hair Salon with a Universal Face Covering Policy — Springfield, Missouri, May 2020

Face masks work!

More on Fact Checking Face Masks Work