TAMPA, Fla. — The latest data from the Florida Department of Health from the week of July 13 shows thousands of kids under the age of 18, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Tampa Bay area since the start of the pandemic.
- Hillsborough: 1,902
- Pinellas: 804
- Polk: 762
- Manatee: 633
- Pasco: 304
- Sarasota: 237
- Desoto: 164
- Hardee: 124
- Hernando: 67
- Highlands: 46
Experts are closely monitoring these numbers as the start of the school year approaches.
“I have seen, we’ve definitely been testing a lot more at our clinics, we’ve been testing a lot more older children as well,” said USF Health General Pediatrics Dr. Rebecca Plant.
Doctors say the good news is that medically, for the most part, kids are still doing okay with the virus and aren’t getting as sick.
“Elementary aged kids so less than 10 years old, are not huge vectors of this disease. They don’t transmit it quite as often as our older, adolescents and adults," said Plant.
Experts say they’re more concerned about the risk of high school students transmitting the virus when school starts than elementary aged kids.
“They can really, they can really pass it on a lot. Thankfully again they’re still doing pretty well but it’s worrisome they still can spread it to other high-risk individuals that they might not know and get them really, really sick,” said Plant.
Doctors say it can be difficult to tell if children have COVID-19 because their symptoms are much milder.
“Really fever and cough is still the number one for pediatrics,” said Plant.
Doctors say if the fever gets to 101.4 and above, that’s when kids should stay home.
“The documents I’ve seen are really recommending for this next school year, they need to be fever free for 72 hours without any Tylenol or Motrin before they’re going to be allowed back into school. Which is a big difference from 24 hours that it’s always been before,” said Plant.
Experts warn children are also more likely to have some kind of gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.