Fort Worth, Texas,
10:54 AM

COVID-19 Cases Back on the Rise Among Local Children

An Infectious Diseases expert talks testing, prevention and how the latest numbers compare to state and national data.

Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children's (available for download)

COVID-19 cases are increasing at Cook Children’s Medical Center and across North Texas.

As of Oct. 12, the number of patients who have tested positive reached 1,657, with four of those patients currently in the hospital.

Pediatric cases of COVID-19 have been climbing along with overall cases in Tarrant County. On Sunday, Tarrant County Public Health reported an ‘uptick’ with 794 new cases.

“I’ve been asked frequently about the number of infected children, as well as the number of infected adults locally and throughout the state. We’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that we’ve had more positive cases here,” said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children's. “Part of the reason we have more cases here is because we are doing more testing. If you double the amount of testing you do, you would expect to double your number of positive results. If you more than double your number of positive results, that means there’s more disease in the community.”

Cook Children’s COVID-19 positivity rate was near 2.5% in August. Today, our overall positivity rate is 5.3%. Dr. Whitworth says that rate is in line with statewide and national data for children. She says throughout the pandemic, less than 10% of all COVID-19 cases occurred in children under 15 years old.

“It is disturbing that our percent positivity rate is going up, and we also see that in Tarrant County,” she said. “Tarrant County is hovering around 10% positivity rate, while the state has dropped to around 7%.”

There are a number of reasons why this may be occurring, including people going out more and becoming tired of wearing masks and social distancing. She also says there are some cases at schools, but those haven’t been tremendous numbers.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your family?

  • Wash your hands often, for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
  • Keep at least six feet away from others.
  • Wear a mask.
  • When around others, remember being outdoors is safer than indoors.

“As the holidays approach, I have wrestled with how to handle this and I know everyone else is wrestling with it too,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult to not be involved in crowded gatherings, but they’re not going to be very safe this year. Those are some of the things I think we can do.”

She says another important way to protect yourself and your family is to get a flu shot.

“There are decades of safety data with flu shots. They are safe. You can’t get the flu from a flu shot. You might be a little achy afterwards, but that beats having the flu where you might be in bed for a week with high fever and miss work or miss school.”

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