GRAND RAPIDS (WOOD) — Coronavirus cases in Michigan have shot up considerably in the last several weeks. Now, we are seeing more children and minors become infected with the virus.
“In Ottawa County, we’ve had about a fourfold increase in pediatric cases over the last month in ages 0 to 19,” said Dr. Joel Veldhouse, who works in internal medicine and pediatrics at Holland Hospital.
Those 19 and under are currently responsible for some of the highest positivity rates in Ottawa County.
“I know for Easter, I think a lot of people got together with their older grandparents, who they wouldn’t have gotten together with,” said Veldhouse. “But now that they’re vaccinated, they’re gathering, but all those cousins and friends that are coming along with those outings are not vaccinated.”
About 43% of eligible Ottawa County residents are vaccinated and 45% in Kent County, according to state data.
Much of the blame is also being pinned on indoor sports and pandemic fatigue.
“All these activities that occur around sports: celebration parties, other gatherings that are related to these extracurricular activities that might be going on, as well,” said Dr. Daliya Khuon, director for infection prevention at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “Any symptoms that adults can have with COVID-19, children can absolutely have.”
The Spectrum Health system had 300 people in that younger age range recently test positive for coronavirus.
Some kids are developing MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, where their bodies have extreme reactions after the virus is defeated.
“In West Michigan, we’ve had 30 cases of this identified since COVID began,” Khuon said. “Many of these kids have needed to go to the ICU and nearly all have survived.”
“Any time you end up in the ICU with an illness like that, you could end up with some kind of long-term health consequences, in terms of your heart or lung function,” added Veldhouse.
Kids can pass it to each other, and it is common for them to end up in the emergency room.
“Many of the patients that are admitted, I would say 25-50%, do need some level of ICU care,” Khuon said.
As we have seen many times before, case counts fluctuate. There is hope that this most recent surge is one of the last.
“As people come back from spring break, as more and more people get vaccinated, as more of that play and that time indoors can become more outdoor time, you’ll start to see these positivity rates go down again,” said Veldhouse.
He says it’s fine to keep hanging out with your close family and friends, but to limit your circles until more people can get vaccinated.
He estimates that children will be eligible for the vaccine before the start of the next school year.