READING, Dad. — The number of childhood COVID-19 cases has increased in Pennsylvania in the past month.
In the week ending Sept. 1, more than 4,000 cases were reported among school-age children, including 117 in Berks County.
dr. Christopher Valente, chief of pediatric emergency care at Reading Hospital, says there are several reasons for the uptick.
He says the Delta Variant plays a role because it is more contagious than the original strain.
Valente says that in the spring and early summer, social distancing and mask-wearing have also dropped.
He says people should resume mitigation efforts.
Valente also says that anyone who can get vaccinated should roll up their sleeves to protect children who can’t get the shot.
“The way to protect (children under 12) is to have them mask and immunize who we can. If they are 12 or older, I would strongly recommend getting the immunization,” Valente said.
He says children can experience a range of symptoms from COVID-19, just like adults.
It can involve coughing or vomiting, but also serious complications such as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, also known as MIS-C.
He says that the hospital has sent children to the children’s ICU for this.
“To my knowledge, most if not all have recovered, but in severe cases they can experience Ensypholitus, which is the brain inflammation you’re talking about, as well as inflammation of other organs,” Valente said. “Especially for COVID, it’s usually the heart. We call that myocarditis.”
Valente says it’s not yet clear whether these conditions have long-term health implications, but time will tell.
He says that children are fortunately less sick from the virus, but there are children who do become seriously ill.
“As the number of cases increases, there will be children who will have these complications, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which will end up in the hospital or end up with breathing tubes, on ventilators, and more children will die,” Valente said. “And then it just becomes a game of Russian roulette, if that’s going to be a kid in our community, kids in one of our families, and so that’s not a game I want to play.”
Valente urges people to wear masks, maintain social distancing, wash their hands and get vaccinated if they are eligible and have not yet done so.