The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reports a significant increase in pediatric cases of COVID-19 at this time of year, compared to the same time in 2020. Coupled with this increase in cases, ADPH notes that Alabama has at least 50 children hospitalized statewide and has recently had at least 9 children on ventilators in a single day.
ADPH pediatrician, Dr. Karen Landers, states, “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. 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.
To combat this surge in disease, ADPH recommends all children ages 12 and above be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the approved vaccine product. ADPH recently issued School Guidance that any child who has COVID-19 disease should remain in home isolation for 10 days in order to prevent spreading the virus to other students, staff and teachers.
ADPH further recommends, as part of its Isolation and Quarantine Guidance, that close contacts home quarantine unless they meet certain exceptions. Exceptions are having had COVID-19 disease within 90 days of exposure, fully vaccinated status, and, in the K-12 classroom, correct and appropriate mask use with 3 or more feet of distancing.
· Between August 1 and August 12, 2020, Alabama had 1,356 reports of COVID-19 in the age range of 5 to 17 years. In this same date range in 2021, there were 6,181 reports among 5- to 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.
These numbers are based on data reported to Alabama’s electronic disease surveillance system.
While urging all parents and guardians to listen to and read factual information from their pediatrician or other healthcare provider, Landers states, “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.”