ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nationwide, more than four million kids have tested positive for COVID-19. On the ground in St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children's hospital says more parents are checking their kids into the ER.
"This has been our biggest seven days since the pandemic started," said Dr. Joseph Perno, the Chief Medical Officer at Johns Hopkins All Children's hospital.
And while most of them aren't suffering extreme symptoms, the uptick is alarming Dr. Perno.
"It's not thrilling," he said. "We thought COVID was kind of retrieving and things were getting better, but it's not surprising."
He says many pediatric patients aren't old enough to get vaccinated and ones who are may not be yet. He says that coupled with the extremely transmissible delta variant and loosened restrictions when it comes to masks and social distancing, more kids are getting it.
AAP shows Florida's reporting the third largest amount of COVID 19 cases in kids as of July 15, 2021.
"They're presenting with a runny nose, fevers, congestion, some with some breathing difficulties," said Dr. Perno.
Some have also had stomach problems. And while most are seen in the emergency department and sent home, some are coming in with MISC or Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome associated with COVID-19 in kids and teens. Doctors say that is showing up more now too.
"It's not totally common, but we are seeing significant numbers, I think we've seen two a month basically since January," Dr. Perno said.
And those symptoms can be quite severe — fever, muscle aches, red lips, eyes and tongue, elevated heart rate, and breathing difficulties.
"It's very challenging and it can be dangerous. Our concern is the more children who test positive for COVID or are exposed to COVID the more that are going to be at risk for this syndrome."
It's why Dr. Perno is urging parents to get their kids vaccinated now if they can ahead of the school year and if they aren't able to be vaccinated, encourage mask-wearing and social distancing.