MADERA, Calif. — Many people incorrectly assume that children do not contract the coronavirus and that, when they do, they are unlikely to transmit the virus. Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera is trying to dispel that myths.
“Much of the narrative that is taking place both in our valley, in our state and nationally related to children and the risk to children of COVID-19, foundationally, we object to,” said Todd Suntrapak, president and CEO of Valley Children’s Healthcare.
He pointed to both national and local data to support the hospital’s objections.
“We know that in California 8.7% of those 413,576 cases were children,” said Suntrapak, referring to the California's total infections as of Thursday morning.
Suntrapak also noted that local incidents in children exceeded the national number.
“The case growth data…in the central part of the state, it’s - and I’m rounding here by a couple tenths of a point - about 12%,” Suntrapak said. “So in our valley, there’s actually a little bit higher incidence of COVID-19 in kids.”
Suntrapak said the data is why the hospital isn't supporting a statement that children can't get the virus.
Dr. David Christensen, the Chief Physician Executive for the hospital, said there are two major myths that are spreading. One of them is that coronavirus does not affect children.
“We can look at data throughout the county and see kids being admitted in pretty much all the states for COVID-19," said Dr. Christensen. "Myth number 2 is that kids can’t spread COVID-19, and that just goes against logic in my opinion.”
He said this opinion is supported by a recent study out of South Korea which examined nearly 6,000 children with COVID-19. The study found children up to age nine transmitted the virus at a rate of 5.3%. Children 10 to 19 years old spread the virus 18.6% of the time.
For these reasons, he said the hospital does not recommend that kids go back to school until the curve can be flattened.
“Of course, we’re in the middle of a very serious pandemic here, so we felt very strongly that this was not the right time to send kids back to school,” Dr. Christensen said. “With a large pandemic not showing any improvement right outside our door right now, we just felt it was the wrong time.”