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Cook Children's reports more than half its positive COVID-19 cases have come over the past week-and-a-half

"This isn't just that we're sending more tests," said infectious disease Dr. Nicholas Rister. "It's mostly that there's more disease in our area."

FORT WORTH, Texas — If you think your child can't or won't catch COVID-19, Dr. Nicholas Rister from Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth is here to wake you up. 

"We have 238 exactly positive [COVID-19 cases]," the infectious disease doctor said Wednesday. "I would say just over half of those are from the last week and a half."

Six of those children, he says, are currently hospitalized at Cook Children's; one of them is on a ventilator.

"Most of these children are symptomatic," Rister said. 

Many have a fever, mild respiratory symptoms and GI distress. Some have respiratory failure. He said about 90% have been symptomatic.

And where are the children contracting the virus?

"A mixture of from each other and from their parents," he said. And while contact tracing can be difficult, "we definitely hear kids with those stories, whether it's sports or camping events." 

In the meantime, parents are grappling with whether to send their children to school in the fall or even to daycare, where the state is reporting massive increases in COVID-19 cases with kids and caregivers over the last two weeks. 

On June 15, 141 caregivers and 69 children in child care operations had the virus; on June 30, those numbers ballooned to 643 caregivers and 307 children.

"This is one of the questions for parents is, what do we do in the fall?" Rister said. "There will not be a one size fits all for this. I encourage families to work with school systems and look at what options they have."

A bit of good news: Rister said the hospital is seeing fewer cases of the inflammatory illness that's been linked to COVID-19, similar to Kawasaki Disease.

The doctor's overall takeaway as we head into the July 4th holiday?

"It's really here," he said. "This isn't just that we're sending more tests. It's mostly that there's more disease in our area."

And keeping your children safe and socially distanced, he said, should be priority number one.

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