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As COVID Surges, Pediatrician Discusses What Parents Should Know Ahead Of School

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Orlando pediatrician Dr. Candice Jones says we all need to do our part to protect ourselves, our kids and others who can’t be vaccinated.

Florida leads the country in the highest rate of COVID-related hospitalizations in kids. WMFE spoke with Orlando pediatrician Dr. Candice Jones about what parents and teachers should know.

Florida leads the country in the highest rate of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in kids just a week ahead of the start of the new school year.

WMFE spoke with Orlando pediatrician Dr. Candice Jones about what parents and teachers should know about rising cases in kids before the first day of school. 

WMFE: Can you help us break down you know, some of these trends we’re seeing in kids? And are we seeing the same thing in Orange County?

Jones: In the state of Florida, you know, things are just totally open. So people, we can see pictures every day of people at the beach and large groups and, and just going about their normal lives. And so what’s happening is especially 12, and under, we have children that can’t be vaccinated, may or may not be wearing masks. And so they’re at risk, and they can get this virus. We said this all along, and they can get sick. Now, most of them do well, but this delta variant is a game changer.

WMFE: You know, what sort of symptoms should parents be looking for? And when should they get their kids tested or start to be worried?

Jones: If you have, you know, tummy aches, diarrhea, fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain. You know, we know with with COVID-19, the symptoms can be all over the place, and you’re asymptomatic maybe just mild, or I have a stuffy nose. I’ve had several cases with young people being in camps. Just the stuffy nose, me asking, ‘you know, we probably should test you for COVID. You’re you’re out there in activities in the community,’ and it come back positive. On the other hand, I’ve had kids who were sick with fever, younger children, and I’ve tested and it’s negative. So you just don’t know.

WMFE: You know, I think people say, ‘Well, you know, kids, if they get it, they don’t get it as severely.’ But I’ve read about cases of this multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Can you tell me a little bit about what that is, and why it is serious sometimes.

Jones: You know, what we’ve seen is that kids may have been exposed or had a COVID infection previously, and then they present with this MIS-C. All organ systems can be affected inflammation and the body rash. All sorts of symptoms, high fever. You definitely need to seek care, see your doctor, call your doctor, go into the emergency room, because that is something that pediatricians and hospitals are looking out for in young children. And so this can happen. It is rare, it doesn’t happen as much as kids are getting COVID and doing well with, but it certainly is one of those bad outcomes that can happen in kids. And we need to have that on our radar. And it just speaks to the unpredictability of COVID-19.

WMFE: Along with being a doctor, you’re also a mom, and I know you tweeted yesterday, you were so happy that your son’s school has a face mask mandate. I mean, how concerned are you? And how concerned should parents be with cases rising in kids and the school year starting next week?

Jones: I really appreciate that for my son’s school that they are taking this delta variant and what’s going on currently into consideration for the safety of school staff and students and their families at home. Several people have reached out to me asking my opinion really worried like I’ve been trying to figure out the best case scenario for their child. And this is just really tough. And all I can say is we all need to do our part to protect ourselves, our kids, others who can’t be vaccinated and to help our community and our nation get out of this pandemic and that includes wearing a mask indoors and getting vaccinated.

Copyright 2021 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur