More NJ kids test positive for COVID as the surge continues

A. A growing number of New Jersey children are testing positive for COVID-19, and some are getting sick and hospitalized.

According to Dr. Meg Fisher, a pediatric infectious disease expert and special advisor to health commissioner Judith Persichilli, said the increase in positive COVID cases in children was dramatic as the omicron variant began to spread.

The numbers are shooting higher

She said about 2,000 children a week were tested for COVID in New Jersey earlier this fall, but last week that number had risen to 18,000.

In September, about 7% of children in New Jersey tested for COVID were positive for the virus, but last week about 45% of all children tested were positive.

Mario Villafuerte, Getty Images

“The numbers are clearly increasing and the number of children sick enough to be hospitalized has certainly increased,” she said.

At the beginning of December, 11 children were hospitalized with COVID or under research for the virus, but by the end of last week that number had grown to 87.

She noted that some of these children had been hospitalized for other problems such as broken bones and happened to have tested positive for the virus, but about 40 children were being treated specifically for COVID symptoms.

Give it to ommicron

She said the reason so many kids test positive and more get sick is the omicron variant.

“We don’t think it will make children sicker, but we’re sure it’s much more transferable. We also know that our community numbers are going way up,” she said.

She pointed out that children have been home from school during the winter break in recent weeks, so they have been out in the community more than usual and exposed to more adults in a variety of situations, which has helped increase the number of positive cases. .

She said another factor at play is that children are vaccinated less than adults, so they are more prone to being infected.

There are approximately 760,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 in New Jersey, and only 27% have received at least one dose of vaccine.

But the virus is still potentially dangerous

She said it’s important to remember that children who get the virus can also end up with “prolonged COVID, where you have symptoms for weeks to months after you recover, and we know that in children there is a multi-system inflammatory disease.”

There have been 155 cases of MIS-C. Although several children were treated in the ICU, none died from the disease.

Children with underlying conditions such as cancer and lung or heart problems are also more vulnerable.

There have been a thousand COVID deaths in children across the country since the pandemic began, including eight in New Jersey — a low number compared to adult victims, but it’s still one of the top 5 causes of childhood death.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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