Wilmington pediatrician addresses 90% COVID-19 spike in children

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As some school districts in our state are getting ready to welcome back students next week, a new report shows an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases among children.

The report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association shows a 90 percent increase in child COVID-19 cases over the past month.

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The data was collected from 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. It shows 380,174 confirmed child cases as of August 6 compared to 200,184 on July 9.

David L. Hill, MD, FAAP lives in Wilmington and sits on the North Carolina Pediatric Society Planning Committee. Although he occasionally works at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, right now he is primarily working in Wayne County.

“We’re a very small hospital and I have already admitted myself a handful of children for COVID,” Dr. Hill said. I’ve also had babies born to COVID-positive mothers.”

He says unlike adults, COVID-19 symptoms in children more resemble that of food poisoning.

“Adults usually have a cough, they can’t smell, they may have difficulty breathing,” Hill said. “Children are more likely to come in with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, fever.”

Dr. Hill says the other thing unique to children is MIS-C or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

“That is actually sort of an immune response that can occur two or three weeks after the initial infection, but it can be life threatening as well,” he said. “In North Carolina we have already had at least 10 cases of MIS-C in children, including one that I have seen.”

Dr. Hill says while the virus may affect children differently, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.

“On average, children are less likely to get serious disease from COVID,” Hill said. “Children however can and do get hospitalized, and of children who get hospitalized, one third end up going to the intensive care unit.”

Dr. Hill says if schools and the larger community are diligent about mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing, he believes kids and teachers will be safe this school year.