PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Could there be an undercount of kids with coronavirus?
Children are less likely to show symptoms, so they’re less likely to be tested.
“With a shortage of supplies, if kids aren’t symptomatic, we’re not recommending testing,” says Allegheny Health Network Dr. Jennifer Preiss.
So the true rate among children could be higher than we know.
“I do believe there is an undercount of how many children are positive,” Dr. Preiss says.
Having an accurate number can influence decisions.
“The rate needs to be under 2 percent to be comfortable about opening,” said Dr. Preiss.
From CDC data, about 250,000 children — from birth to age 17 — have tested positive, which is around 7 percent of all the infections. But six out of every 100,000 kids get hospitalized with COVID-19.
And according to a modeling study in the Journal of Public Health and Management, one out of 2,400 infected kids will need intensive care.
“I would probably take that number and sit tight with it right now because it’s the best number we have,” Dr. Preiss says.
While these rates are low, across millions of kids, that could be thousands going to the ICU.
“There are many more ICU beds in hospitals for adults, less ICU beds in pediatric hospitals. So again, protecting our hospitals for the kids that are going to be very sick. We have to be careful,” Dr. Preiss warns.
Her predictions? “We are going to have quarantines in school. There’s no doubt in my mind. We’re going to end up having quarantines.”
Which makes knowing the true numbers important.
“It’s going to be based on community. It’s going to be based on availability of testing and whether we’re able to test kids that are asymptomatic. We also have to protect the parents, protect grandparents and protect the teachers. So that’s another balancing point, but I know it’s been talked about, but unfortunately, I don’t think it’s talked about enough,” Dr. Preiss said.