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San Diego sees increase in kids with COVID, officials blame school reopenings

The data says, in the last two weeks 125 of those who tested positive were exposed at school.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County health officials are reporting a new spike in COVID-19 cases in young children and teens. They say it’s a small increase but may be linked to the recent return to the classroom.

“If you think about it, it makes sense. There's more kids going back to school, doing more activities,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, who heads the county’s epidemiology and immunization services branch.

Dr. McDonald said there has been no specific outbreaks. But the data says, in the last two weeks 125 of those who tested positive were exposed at school.

“Other age groups stayed the same,” he said.

And McDonald is imploring parents to follow the state's guidelines, before sending kids back to school.

Children with even the slightest symptoms need to get a negative COVID test and remain home symptom-free for three days. Otherwise, the child needs to stay home for 10 days, or prove an underlying condition like allergies or asthma is causing the symptoms.

“Right now we're all trying to keep the schools and daycares open,” said UC San Diego Pediatrics Professor Dr. Eyla Boies, who chairs a local committee of infectious diseases.

Dr. Boies said San Diego pediatricians are overwhelmed with patients, and some of them barely have a runny nose. But the mild cold and the coronavirus have similar symptoms.

“When we look at the reports coming out of Rady Children’s hospital, which I get, it's more kids have COVID than have the regular old rhinovirus with the cold,” she said.

Since March, the CDC has recorded close to 278,000 COVID cases in children nationwide.

While older adults are at higher risk for severe illness, doctors say parents need to get the message.

"As more kids go back to school, it's very important we follow the guidelines those school districts are giving to keep kids prepared,” said Dr. McDonald.

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