Surge in pediatric COVID cases demands new testing site

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) — As pediatric cases of COVID-19 increase in the community, the demand for specialized testing is high.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 10,000 cases in children under 18 last week.

“With the expansion of the Delta variant, and we know that more children are getting infected and it’s more contagious, [it] is now extremely important to test children,” says pediatrician Sherif Taha.

“The only way we can determine the exact extent of the problem is by knowing how many people have contracted the virus.”

The start of school and the resumption of group care has led to an increase in exposure to COVID-19 among young children who cannot yet be vaccinated.

Parents are then faced with the need to find alternative childcare solutions, while at the same time trying to get their little ones tested to return to their activities.

This is especially more difficult for children than for adults.

Pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS only accept patients three years and older. So for a local mom of an exposed five-month-old, it wasn’t an option.

Some pediatricians offer testing services, but this is completely dependent on the patient load of the office.

Logan Keziah-Hamill, a local parent of a three-year-old, took extra precautions over the past 18 months to ensure her daughter’s safety.

After returning to daycare for less than 7 days, she was back home and scheduled a driving test with her pediatrician.

“I’m concerned about all the other parents who don’t have as much support and I hope everyone in the community will do what they can to make it easier for everyone,” Keziah-Hamill said.

“Masks and vaccinations and all that stuff so that I and other parents don’t have to be in this position all the time.”

Some parents are left to try Vidant Health’s testing site. Wait times would be six hours.

The Maynard Children’s Hospital noted the demand for pediatric testing and opened a new drive-up, by-appointment-only testing site.

So far, it reduces the burden on local families who consider their children’s health a top priority.

Appointments can be made between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, by calling 252-816-3720.

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