I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really sick and tired of all the doom and gloom news. It seems like we just cannot catch a break. The good news of the vaccine was quickly followed by the realization that the last administration totally botched the rollout of the vaccine so hardly anyone is able to get it. The post-holiday surge might be over, but now we have these fast-spreading variants to worry about. And even the kids – the ones least at risk of getting COVID – are now getting it more than ever.
Look, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Like I said, I’m fed the eff up with it. But them’s the facts. Don’t hate me. I’m just the messenger.
But there is a glimmer of hope in all this shittiness. And because I believe in sharing all the facts, I’ll give it to you straight. The good news and the bad.
So let’s start with the bad news.
Over the past few weeks, there’s been a 16% increase in COVID-19 cases among children in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). The AAP and CHA also say that, over the course of the pandemic, more than 2.6 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus, which represents 12.7% of all cases.
“Children absolutely can be infected with COVID and they’re less likely to spread it, but they can spread it,” Dr. Lee Ann Savio Beers, president of the AAP, told Good Morning America. “And as the number of cases in our communities rise, the percentage of the number of cases of children infected with COVID will rise.”
According to ABC News, some experts suggest that those new variants we keep hearing about – specifically the U.K. variant and South Africa variant – have mutations in them that allow the virus to bind to ACE2 receptors better than previous versions of the virus. This allows the virus to enter cells in kids’ respiratory tracts more easily even though children generally have fewer ACE2 receptors.
Even though kids are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19, they aren’t risk-free. Hundreds of children across the U.S. have been diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C. With more kids getting COVID, the number of cases of MIS-C are also on the rise, with experts saying that the next couple weeks could be the worst.
Because kids can be asymptomatic for COVID, parents need to be on the lookout for the symptoms of MISC-C if their child is exposed to coronavirus. Symptoms of MIS-C include: a fever that won’t go away for more than three days, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, a rash, red and cracked lips, a red and swollen tongue, or swollen or reddened hands and feet.
Experts, including Dr. Fauci, say that because of the infectious nature of the new variants of the virus, at this point it is a race against time. Basically, we need vaccination to outpace spread. Unfortunately, according to ABC News, doctors say we likely won’t have a vaccine available for children until mid-to-late 2021. Fuuuuuuuck.
Now for the good news. There are things that we can do to protect kids, and our community in general. We aren’t completely helpless in this – though it certainly feels like it sometimes, doesn’t it? We can wear masks, social distance, and stay home as much as possible. Stop gathering indoors unmasked with family and friends. (Seriously, folks in my Facebook feed posting pictures of that weekend getaway with “close friends” and while out to dinner with your “pod”… knock that shit off.)
And get yourself vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. “You need to get vaccinated when it becomes available as quickly and as expeditiously as possible,” Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said during a virtual press briefing of the White House COVID-19 response team. “And the reason for that is … viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate. And if you stop their replication by vaccinating widely and not giving the virus an open playing field to continue to respond to the pressures that you put on it, you will not get mutations.
Look, I know the news is grim and this pandemic nightmare seems to go on and on and on. But if we all do our part, we can bring the cases down and reduce the amount of virus circulating to buy ourselves just a little bit of time.
We are close, people. So very close. If we listen to the scientists and wear our masks and some tough choices now, we can keep our kids safe and give our kids a (mostly) normal childhood as soon as possible.
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