EL PASO, Texas — The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association report that 338,000 children nationwide have tested positive for Covid-19 since July 30.
Texas Tech Pediatrics indicates that there are 1,900 children who have tested positive in El Paso.
The spike in children testing positive for the virus has parents on edge about sending their kids to school when in-person instruction begins.
“I’m really scared. You know positive cases are popping up more and more,” says Irma Garcia, a mother of two elementary-aged children, a teenager and a disabled daughter.
Garcia is trying to keep both these littles ones away from school when in-person classes start; she says she wants to keep them safe from the coronavirus.
And although pediatricians say children can have the same Covid-19 symptoms as adults, children don’t always show symptoms.
“The trick about kids is that some of them walk around with Covid-19 and have absolutely no symptoms. So, it’s a little hard to know, do you have it or do you not?” said Sarah Zate, associate professor of pediatrics at Texas Tech University’s El Paso campus.
There has been a 90-percent spike nationwide in children diagnosed with Covid 19 over the past month, according to data released this week by the AAP.
Locally, ABC-7 knows of at least one teen who died after contracting the coronavirus.
All this is contrary to what the public was told about Covid-19 in children when the novel coronavirus was first reported in Asian countries. At the time, it was said that children were immune.
But then, Zate says, it spread to Europe and we learned more about Covid-19.
“We believed that kids couldn’t spread it. Now we look at data from Denmark. Kids are spreading it,” said Zate.
That’s what scares Garcia, who has a disabled child and a husband with health issues.
“It’s kind of scary because Ihave my oldest daughter, she’s disabled and she has health issues. So I really don’t want to go through that, or my husband as well. They both have health issues,” Garcia says, adding that she’s afraid on foe her children could bring the virus home and infect other members of the family.
Zate says Garcia has every reason to be alarmed.
“Children who have family members who have things like diabetes, and uncontrolled high blood pressure, cancer and lupus, those children will probably be fine, but we have to remember that they’re going to bring this home, eventually they’ll probably bring it home.”
Garcia will probably be able to keep her young ones home.
But she also has a teenager who is eager to see his friends after being locked up during the summer.
Zate says experts agree it probably will not be a good idea for in-classroom instruction to begin until the spread of the infection is under control.
“And by control, the number that they’ve set is, in El Paso, it would be seven new cases a day. Seven to ten new cases a day. If we were in that zone, I would be totally comfortable sending every kid back to school,” she said.
The Borderland has not seen that low number of cases in a long time. On Wednesday alone, the El Paso health department reported 274 new cases.