COVID and kids: “They’ve been flying under the radar up until now”

Study: Spread of COVID-19 could cause thousands of children to die from preventable diseases
Posted at 11:16 PM, Aug 11, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A recently released study on COVID and children is sparking conversation about the safety of returning to school. The study by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association illustrates a 40% increase of positive COVID tests among children across the United States.

“They’ve been flying under the radar up until now,” said infectious diseases expert Dr. Thomas Russo.

Between July 16th and 30th, data shows there were nearly 100,000 cases diagnosed in kids. New York State data was not included because researchers noted: "New York did not provide age distribution for state-wide cases (NYC only)."

“Well, I don’t think this report is cause for alarm,” said the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, Dr. Thomas Russo. He continued, “I think this just confirms the fact that children can get infected with the new coronavirus and children are able to spread the new coronavirus.”

Russo said the increase could be in part due to an expansion in testing.

“Most of the time they’re (children are) asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic and and therefore they’re not tested,” said Russo.

Testing aside, medical experts like Russo agree, the keys to safely reopening are mandatory masks and social distancing.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Nikki DeMentri asked Dr. Russo: “For anyone to assume that schools will not have any cases just seems unrealistic at this point, correct?” Dr. Russo responded: “It’s critical to realize that any plan we put in place will minimize risk, but we can never get the risk to zero.”

But it is data like this study, which shows a dramatic increase in kids getting COVID as schools around the country reopen, that brings a moment of pause for Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

“I don’t want to reopen unless we have a strong testing program and a strong contact tracing program with relatively quick results,” said Dr. Cash in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Cash said the district recently partnered with the Erie County Department of Health to help with the testing and tracing initiatives.

“I certainly will understand if parents don’t feel that it’s safe enough yet. I certainly wouldn’t send my grandchildren back or my kids if they were still at school age. I wouldn’t. Not with the data that we have and uncertainties that we have. I wouldn’t, but I would say that I would try everything I can to make it as safe as we possibly can,” Dr. Cash said.