Young girl wearing a mask Children and teenagers may also be at risk of contracting a rare but serious inflammatory disorder linked to the coronavirus.
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The CDC’s new guidelines exclude age as a factor for COVID-19 contagion as more than 7,000 kids test positive in Florida alone, according to the Department of Health. But that number continues to grow rapidly.

FLORIDA — According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 7,000 children under 18 have tested positive for coronavirus in Florida since the pandemic began in March, the Miami Herald reports. 

Of those who tested positive, 2,865 were in South Florida, the state’s hot zone for the pandemic, with Miami-Dade County accounting for 1,242 of the known cases. Palm Beach and Broward counties follow with 866 and 747 known cases, respectively.

But these numbers have gone up in the past 15 days to nearly 17,000 kids testing positive to COVID in Florida.

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The state’s health records also show that in June two teenagers who had been hospitalized, a 17-year-old boy in Pasco County and a 16-year-old girl in Lee County, later died from coronavirus related complications.

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Kids Are Not Immune

These numbers are a grim reminder that although it may appear that children are not at higher risk for COVID-19 than their adult counterparts, they can still contract the disease and, in some cases, require hospitalization, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the CDC, children and teens infected with the disease will likely be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, but being asymptomatic doesn’t mean they can’t have the disease and spread it to others, such as family members who might be at higher risk for serious complications.

Dr. Marcos Mestre, senior medical director of pediatric services at Nicklaus Children Hospital in Miami, told the Miami Herald that based on what doctors know so far, it seems that “children who are obese or have health conditions, including asthma, are at a higher risk for severe illness with the disease.”

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Additionally, children and teenagers may also be at risk of contracting a rare but serious and sometimes deadly inflammatory disorder — multi-system inflammatory syndrome — that is believed to be linked to COVID-19. The symptoms may vary and can appear up to a month after a child is infected with COVID-19 (this includes those who were asymptomatic).

According to the CDC,  multi-system inflammatory syndrome causes swelling that can affect body systems, including the heart, kidneys, brain lungs, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs. As there is no official treatment for this disorder, doctors use different therapies to treat it. Most kids recover, but at this time it is not known if it can affect adults or if some children are at higher risk of contracting it.

Keeping Kids Safe

As COVID-19 cases spike across the state, children, and teens need to be aware that they also need to follow social distancing guidelines, such as wearing masks if they are older than two, and wash their hands frequently when they go out or when they gather with friends. 

During the summer children’s programs open, so parents need to make sure that in these — as well as in any other activities their children and teenagers participate in — CDC guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission are being strictly followed.

This story has been updated to reflect the latest Florida Health Department data regarding positive testing amongst children under 18 years old.