31% of children in Florida have tested positive for coronavirus, and health officials are warning that the long-term effects of the virus in children are still unknown.
Florida is rapidly becoming a new global epicenter of the COVID-19 in the world. Elected officials and public health experts said the surge in cases in Florida began in mid-June as the state began to reopen beaches and young people were gathering for parties.
READ MORE: Florida shatters national record for the largest, single-day increase in COVID cases
According to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach County’s health department director is warning the public that even asymptomatic children are experiencing lung damage. “We don’t know how that is going to manifest a year from now or two years from now,” Alonso told county commissioners on Tuesday. “Is that child going to have chronic pulmonary problems or not?”
The news comes as Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis continues to push for schools to be reopened in the fall. He has said that he would be comfortable sending his children to school. However, they are too young to attend.
“I’ve got a 3-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, and a newborn daughter,” DeSantis said in a radio interview with conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh. “And I can tell you if they were school age, I would have zero concern sending them.”
While COVID-19 is less likely to infect children, they are not immune to it. According to the report, roughly 17,000 of Florida’s 287,800 cases are in people under 18. Only four of Florida’s 4,514 deaths are children.
READ MORE: Florida governor accused of undercounting COVID-19 cases
Researchers are finding that COVID-19 can develop into a condition called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome of which there have been 13 confirmed cases in the state.
“We are learning something every day,” said Dr. Jorge Perez, who operates Kidz Medical Services, a chain of pediatric offices across South Florida. “We have to be knowledgeable about this and continue to monitor to see what effects it has on children.”
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