Should children be tested for COVID-19? CHKD doctor has more on what parents should know

Posted at 9:37 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 11:07:13-04

NORFOLK, Va. - “It was about this long. It was quite scary,” said Hannah-Rose Carmona as she showed us the length of the Q-tip doctors used to test her young son for COVID-19.

The mother held her 22-month-old baby, Jacobi, while doctors swabbed his nose, testing him for the virus.

“He threw himself back because because I think it was uncomfortable, and as soon as they took the Q-tip out, he was fine,” she adds.

Jacobi was required to get tested for the virus before his throat surgery at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters last month.

Health leaders say they test all children before surgical procedures.

"Usually they are having the anesthesiologist put a tube in the airway for the anesthesia, and that is a risk factor for them generating particles that would be a risk to those in the operating room,” said Dr. Doug Mitchell. He’s a general pediatrician and the medial director for the CHKD Medical Group.

Doctors say even though they are seeing an increase of children testing positive for COVID-19 - most of those cases being mild or symptomatic - they want to caution parents not to rush to get their children tested if they aren’t showing any symptoms.

“We do not have the capacity to test everybody all the time,” said Dr. Mitchell.

He says tests need to be saved for those who need it.

"Those that are immunosuppressed, or are on medication suppressing their immune system - those kids are the ones we want to pay attention to and more likely to want to test those kids."

Carmona said she’s thought about testing her two other boys because they have breathing issues, including asthma.

“If they were to catch COVID, it would be traumatic,” she adds.

Dr. Mitchell says she shouldn’t be too worried.

“There is some recent evidence that it might not be a real risk factor; that children with asthma may not do any worse than a child without asthma."

He says the best thing to do is make sure children wash their hands, practice physical distancing and wear a mask.

"We know that kids are asymptomatic carriers that can spread it to their elderly parents and grandparents,” said Dr. Mitchell.

He also wants parents to not avoid coming into the hospital or office because of the fear of contracting a virus. Dr. Mitchell says children still need to come in for check-ups.

"If we don’t get the kids in for their wellness checks for measles and mumps, we may have a measles outbreak because we've lost herd immunization and the rate,” he adds.

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