Lexington pediatrician says children are not immune from COVID-19 surge

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With COVID numbers rising across the state, children have not been immune from that threat. On July 9, 89 of the new cases were among people 18 and under. On Monday, one month later, that number was up to 269. Pediatricians tell us parents can take an active role in keeping their kids safe.

“It’s definitely very concerning. It’s a repeat of a surge that we saw early on in the pandemic, yes. Also with a delta variant that’s also illustrating possibly wants to come here in the winter time,” Dr. Jai Gilliam said.

Dr. Gilliam said the surge we’re seeing may not go away anytime soon.

With schools starting up, we’ve heard from parents concerned about students spreading the virus, but Gilliam says parents can do a lot to help their kids.

“I can’t over-emphasize that if you are eligible to get vaccinated, please do. We are looking at the home being the start of the infection spread and into the community,” Dr. Gilliam said. “It’s not actually schools, schools are following the rules, doing the best they can. It’s better for our kids to be in school from a mental health standpoint and so it should be a good year.”

He also said he thinks masks are a good idea for students and staff. Although it’s something they won’t really have a choice about after the governor’s latest executive order.

“When we looked at the behavior during this pandemic children actually did well with it. Whether you get a face mask with a cartoon character or some sort of, children actually obey the rules better. Which does help with decreasing the transmission,” Dr. Gilliam said.

He says he felt like whatever steps needed to be taken so kids stayed in school, regarding masks and vaccinations, should be a priority, because he’s seen first hand how hard it is on children’s mental health when they aren’t able to learn in person with their friends.

“Mental health has been really, really bad during this pandemic. Depression, anxiety, suicide has actually been on the run I’ve seen in kids. Even regression in milestones as far as academic and their learning,” Dr. Gilliam said. “So it’s always going to be better for them to be socially around a school setting around their peers. So that should be the top priority.”

The CDC is reporting on average, around 192 children a day across the U.S. are being admitted to hospitals. It’s the highest rate yet for children during the pandemic.

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