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COVID-19 and kids: What we know

"We've had very, very few children who are requiring intensive care."

MINNEAPOLIS — Like many aspects of the new coronavirus, there is still a lot to learn about how it affects children.

The CDC says adults make up most of the known cases to date and children typically have mild symptoms.

"Across the country of the United States, we've had very, very few children who are requiring intensive care," said Dr. Emily Chapman, the Chief Medical Officer at Children's Minnesota. 

Chapman says at Children's, they're increasingly using telehealth and limiting visitors to keep everyone safe. Children's is a not-for-profit hospital, meaning they are reaching out to community members for help financially after COVID-19 prompted them to postpone their annual gala.

Chapman says it's not necessarily unusual for a virus to impact different age groups differently. 

"This one is a little unique in how stark the difference seems to be," she said. 

An article published this week in The Lancet medical journal points to research of the cases among kids in China.

It says children younger than ten account for only 1% of COVID-19 cases there and none developed severe illness or died.

"As we look at it more closely, [kids] do indeed get this virus. It appears they have a more mild case with it, or their system is better able to tolerate the infection than some of our older adults," Chapman said.

Credit: KARE
Dr. Emily Chapman is the Chief Medical Officer at Children's Minnesota.

But The Lancet article also says "there is an urgent need for further investigation of the role children have in the chain of transmission." While kids may not get as sick, they could play a role in giving the virus to people who are more susceptible. 

To avoid that, Dr. Chapman says parents should keep children home when they aren't feeling well, keep them away from other people who are sick, and practice good hand washing. 

As for teenagers who vape or smoke, Dr. Chapman says there's "certainly" a concern, because older adults with lung disease are more susceptible to the virus and get sicker. The same could be true for teens who vape or smoke.

"Who we know have irritation, inflammation in their lungs from vaping," she said. "It stands to reason, that they, too, are more susceptible to the virus." 

The Minnesota Department of Health says seven people under the age of 18 in the state have confirmed cases of COVID-19. The youngest is a five-month-old. The health department says that child is "doing fine" and recovering at home. 

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

More information on the coronavirus: 

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