Children make up more than 2,000 of the new COVID-19 cases reported in Louisiana

Governor Edwards imposes indoor mask mandate for everyone
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:32 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The latest surge in COVID-19 cases in Louisiana is not sparing children. Of the more than 11,000 new cases reported after the weekend, more than 2,000 are children.

“Two-thousand, 79 of those cases are children from today’s report and we know, we told you this last week those under 29 are driving the surge,” said Governor John Bel Edwards during a press conference on Monday.

An internal state report shows kids 0 to 4 account for 471 of the new cases and children ages 5 to 17 account for 1,608.

And doctors who treat children are concerned.

Dr. Mark Kline is Physician-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. He joined the governor at the press conference.

“I am as worried about our children today as I’ve ever been. This virus, the Delta variant of COVID is every infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist worst nightmare,” said Kline.

The highly contagious Delta variant has taken hold in Louisiana and is fueling the latest surge in cases.

Some people thought kids could not get the virus or get sick enough from it to require hospitalization.

Dr. Leron Finger is Chief Quality Officer at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

“I think that they’re wrong. I think that in the first 15 months of this disease kids were certainly hospitalized at rates much lower than in the adult population but over the last month we’ve seen many more children admitted to our hospital and pediatric hospitals across the country,” he said.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno is the Director of the New Orleans Health Department.

“This is just further evidence that Delta is really different than what we’ve seen in the past. It is certainly more contagious, so one person can infect a lot more people,” said Avegno.

Children’s Hospital had seven kids with COVID hospitalized on Monday. Last week the number was 20.

“There were people who said children don’t get the disease, they can’t transmit the disease, we knew that those were fallacies all along but particularly now that the Delta variant has emerged it has become very clear that children are being heavily impacted by this organism, and by this pandemic at this point, perhaps more than ever before,” said Kline.

“And if you remember in our previous waves children really were spared, either they, for the vast majority either they didn’t have symptoms or they had very mild symptoms. We had a few rare cases of kids being affected and then of some long-term complications but nothing like we’re seeing now where our Children’s Hospital went from zero cases to 20 cases in you know about a week and a half,” said Avegno.

Finger was asked about the difficulty that comes with having to tell parents their child is positive for COVID-19.

“It’s really hard for those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine,” said Finger.

Vaccines have not been authorized yet for kids under 12.

Finger says daycare centers should have frank discussions with parents.

“I think those establishments need to have really, sort of transparent conversations with all of the families that do seek them out as a daycare and they need to understand that they’re all caring for their kids as a collective and that their behaviors outside of the daycare have the potential to have major ramifications, meaning they need to practice safe behaviors,” he said.

And as kids are beginning to head back to school a new statewide mandate that everyone wears masks indoors is in effect. Governor Edwards announced the rule was being reinstated through September 1.

“We do believe that you can have a safe return to school as long as adherence to that universal masking indoors is adhered to,” said Finger.

Avegno said.

“What we learned last year is that when everybody was wearing masks as were, the rate of transmission of the virus in school was incredibly low,” said Avegno.

And Ochsner Health, the largest non-profit healthcare system in the state says it has 18 kids hospitalized across its system.

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