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Local doctors talk COVID in kids: Have we seen the peak yet?

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Monday night marked 544 days of this pandemic. Our area just reported its first pediatric COVID death last week, showing us just how different the delta variant really is.

A family in Evans is waiting for answers after losing their 4-year-old daughter Addison over the weekend.

Her parents tell us she died Saturday while recovering from a second colon surgery. We’re told she did test positive for COVID on Friday just a day before she passed. But at this point, doctors have not ruled her official cause of death.

We’re also working to learn more about the death of a 15-year-old girl in Aiken. The girl’s grandfather shared a GoFundMe page with us, saying his 10th-grade granddaughter Emily died Sept. 1 of COVID-19. According to the page, Emily was wheelchair-bound and suffered other health complications like blindness and seizures.

We also know an Aiken County fourth-grader with coronavirus died last week.

(WRDW)

The graph above from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows the seven-day moving average of COVID cases for age groups under 18. If you look at the seven-day moving average of COVID cases in kids, around this time last year, the number of cases is below 200. Fast forward to this year, that number is up to nearly 2,000. It’s clear our COVID situation this year is very different compared to last Labor Day.

Some local parents tell us their child has, unfortunately, been one of those to catch the virus.

With school out, kindergartner Mikaelis is ready to ride around the block on his bike. But only a few weeks ago, he was in no place to hit the road after catching COVID.

“And he was just laying around exhausted. He kept saying, my body hurts, my body hurts,” said Chasity Foster, Mikaelis’ mom.

Mikaelis caught COVID at the start of the school year. Likely the delta variant, as AU tells us about 95 percent of cases in our area are that strain. Though pediatric cases have gone up, AU says it doesn’t necessarily mean the virus is targeting kids more than any other group.

“I would say that it’s probably mostly that they haven’t been vaccinated, and that they are out more than older individuals,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an MCG Infectious Disease Professor.

And though catching the strain isn’t a walk in the park, AU says many kids, like Mikaelis, won’t be hospitalized. Though kids with underlying conditions like obesity are at a much higher risk. Regardless, catching COVID isn’t always a walk in the park.

“Mikaelis was sick for 10 days. And he was very sick,” said Foster.

And as for the mu strain that’s making headlines, doctors tell us it’s of interest, but nothing to raise a red flag over just yet.

“It’s of interest, and this is a term the CDC uses. Not of concern, just yet. And it’s just really hard to know how it’s going to play out,” said Augusta University Health’s Dr. Rodger MacArthur.

For now, it’s just something to keep an eye on in the future. But with all of that, there is a light at the end of the tunnel this holiday weekend.

“Looking back over the past couple of days, it’s looking like maybe, in fact, we have peaked and that maybe we’ll start seeing a decrease in the number of cases in the hospital,” he said.

AU also talked to News 12 briefly about booster shots. They say mutations in the virus will likely mean in the future, booster shots will change by the season, kind of like how the flu shot does. But they say those changes in the formula likely won’t be until months down the line.

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