SALT LAKE CITY — Medical experts say it was “wishful thinking” to believe COVID-19 doesn’t make children as sick as adults.
“Kids are susceptible. Kids transmit the virus and we are in a precarious position because of that,” said evolutionary virologist Stephen Goldstein.
At a press event Wednesday, University of Utah Health experts shot down a widely accepted theory that COVID-19 goes easy on young children.
“I’ll go out on a little bit of a limb here and say that I think that was wishful thinking for the most part. I don’t think that made a lot of sense based on what we know about other respiratory viruses,” said Goldstein.
Goldstein said the data was skewed last year because of remote learning and mandatory masking in class.
“This year, kids are in school and the masks are off in most cases and we are seeing an extremely steep rate of growth in the epidemic in younger children. My concern is that is going to increase right into the all,” he said.
It was a theory one Salt Lake County Council member used as a reason to shoot down a mask mandate recommendation for elementary students earlier this month.
Aimee Winder Newton writing on Facebook, “I don’t believe a mask mandate is the right solution right now because COVID is such a low risk for kids in this age group.”
“They do have serious consequences,” said Emily Spivak, Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health.
Eleven Utah children were hospitalized with COVID-19 just since Friday. While the frequency of serious disease and hospitalization is lower among children than adults, Spivak says it is higher than the flu.
“There are clearly kids who have had long COVID or have long COVID. There have been cases of MISC in hospitalization in other parts of the country and these rates clearly seem to be going up,” Spivak said.
Health experts urge masking in schools and vaccinations among eligible people to protect children.