KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As hospitals fear filling up with COVID-19 patients, pediatric offices are getting swamped with kids showing coronavirus symptoms and needing tested, too.
Charts and graphs shared by metro school districts show some eye-popping numbers of kids getting infected or needing to quarantine for COVID-19.
“We’re not seeing an increase in hospitalizations, but we are seeing an increase in the number of kids being tested at our outpatient facilities,” Dr. Angela Myers, Children’s Mercy infectious diseases division director, said.
Missouri’s chart shows a steady climb of COVID-19 cases in kids in recent days. In Kansas, nearly 23% of kids getting tested for the virus are now positive, an all-time high.
Schools are feeling the impact, too.
Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission have doubled their case counts in the past week. In Olathe, 44 kids are sick and 161 quarantined. But few cases are coming directly from classrooms.
“So the transmission that’s occurring is in the community, and in order to become infected or for there to have been transmission in the community, you have to have exposure which means you’re either gathering in groups, not distancing or not wearing a mask,” Myers said.
Children’s Mercy recently expanded its testing capacity to help meet demand and can now screen asymptomatic kids who have been exposed to COVID-19. Some of its clinics will now offer weekend hours to help even more patients.
“It really is all about vigilance, which I know is incredibly hard. There’s a lot of discussion around COVID fatigue and depression, and I completely understand that, but we’re in a place right now where we’re seeing a huge amount of community spread and we’ve got to be careful,” Myers said.
Experts continue to strongly encourage flu shots because the pandemic started at the tail end of flu season last year. Many are nervous that flu with COVID-19 could lead to even more severe disease.