Expert warns kids are vulnerable to catching, spreading COVID-19

Published: August 18, 2021 6:51 PM EDT

The coronavirus is spreading quickly again, and it’s ready to infect those who have little defense against it — children who are too young to receive the vaccine.

Experts are warning parents it’s not a matter of if kids contract COVID-19 but when.

We’re seeing signs of COVID-19 in our kids in Southwest Florida: Eight children under 18 are fighting COVID-19 in hospital beds at Lee Health. Another three kids are hospitalized with NCH Healthcare System.

Some researchers predict a majority of students will get COVID-19, unless we make changes. It starts with the students, but if they aren’t protected, they can bring COVID-19 home to mom and dad and older relatives. It can impact their education, and caregivers might also end up missing work while kids quarantine.

“We looked at what might happen with the delta variant spreading so quickly, right now, in so many different locations,” said Julie Swann, who has a Ph.D. in industrial engineering/management science and whose research includes a focus on public health, public policy, epidemiology, infectious disease, supply chain management and disaster response..

Swann and several other scientists in conjunction with the CDC looked at different scenarios in elementary middle and high schools.

“If a school does have more protection, more vaccine, more immunity that they built up from a previous case, then, the disease would not spread quite as quickly,” Swann said. “But still, even without masks, we expect a large number of the students to be infected in the coming weeks.”

Swann says masks and testing in combination can prevent 40 to 70% of new infections. If not, we could be looking at as many as 75% of kids contracting the virus by the end of the first semester.

“Delta variant doesn’t care what state you live in or what county you live in,” Swann said.

Florida Department of Health in Collier County says, when a student tests positive DOH-Colier and Collier County public Schools are notified. Then, a letter from the DOH-Collier goes home to both the student and close contacts notifying them. Then the DOH-Collier begins contact tracing

We reached out to Florida Department of Health in Lee County, but we have not received a response at this time.