ALABAMA – The Alabama Department of Public Health says there has been a significant increase in pediatric cases of COVID-19 at this time of year, in comparison to the same time in 2020.
ADPH confirmed at least 50 children are hospitalized statewide and there have recently been at least 9 children on ventilators in a single day.
“I am very concerned that the children of Alabama are experiencing more illness and hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19. Children can and do contract and spread COVID-19 disease,” confirmed ADPH pediatrician Dr. Karen Landers. “COVID-19 can be a very serious illness in children with at least 6 percent of children experiencing long-term consequences of this disease. Further, at least 113 children in our state have suffered from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome of Childhood (MIS-C), a severe illness that occurs after COVID disease and affects several organs, including the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys, among other body systems.”
“Delta variant accounts for most of the SARS-CoV-2 cases in Alabama, based upon surveillance. Delta can replicate more quickly and infect earlier than previous SARS-CoV-2 variants. These factors are fueling the surge of COVID-19 among Alabama’s children,” notes Dr. Benjamin Estrada, Director, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Professor of Pediatrics, University of South Alabama College of Medicine.
ADPH recommends all children ages 12 and above be vaccinated against COVID-19 and recently issued guidance for schools that any child who has tested positive for COVID-19 should remain at home in isolation for 10 days in order to prevent spreading the virus to other students, staff, and teachers.
ADPH also recommends that if you have had close contact, you should home quarantine unless you meet certain exceptions, including having had COVID-19 within 90 days of exposure, are fully vaccinated, and, in the K-12 classroom setting, there was correct and appropriate mask use with 3 or more feet of distancing.
ADPH reports between August 1 and August 12, 2020, Alabama had 1,356 COVID-19 patients aging 5-17 year-olds. In this same date range in 2021, there were 6,181 reports among 5-17-year-olds.
In the past four weeks, 6.2 percent of cases of COVID-19 in Alabama have been among children 0-4 years of age while 8.1 percent have been in the 5 to 17 age range.
The current percent positive rate in persons 5-17 in Alabama is higher than the state average, with at least 27 percent of SARS-CoV-2 tests in children being positive.
“All Alabamians need to take the threat of this virus more seriously than ever before and implement all preventive and mitigation measures to protect the children of Alabama,” said Landers.