CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa Children's Hospital admits first 2 coronavirus patients

Adults are at higher risk, but kids can get sick, too, official notes

The University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital is seen from Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. The hospital admitted
The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is seen from Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. The hospital admitted its first two child patients with COVID-19 this week. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital this week admitted its first two COVID-19 pediatric patients.

The hospital isn’t releasing details about those patients, such as their age or gender or whether they had preexisting conditions or immune systems that were compromised.

The young COVID-19 patients, admitted Wednesday, are isolated at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, away from the adult patients, according to UIHC Chief Medical Officer Theresa Brennan.

“The staff are doing a great job of making sure that they keep the patient, other patients and themselves safe and well cared for,” she said.

As of Thursday, 16 of Iowa’s 1,270 confirmed COVID-19 cases involve children under age 17. Among those, Polk County has three cases and Linn, Muscatine and Allamakee counties each are reporting two cases. .

Nationally and internationally, adults are contracting the disease at a much higher rate than children, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In cases where the age of COVID-19 patients is known, the report found about 2,572 children with the disease — about 2 percent of the 149,760 confirmed cases in the United States — between Feb. 12 and April 2.

That age group accounts for 22 percent of the general U.S. population.

Among those with available information, the study found 73 percent of pediatric patients had symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath — compared with 93 percent of adults between 18 and 64.

About 6 percent of all pediatric patients were hospitalized. Three deaths were reported among those pediatric cases.

“Whereas most COVID-19 cases in children are not severe, serious COVID-19 illness resulting in hospitalization still occurs in this age group,” according to the CDC report. “Social distancing and everyday preventive behaviors remain important for all age groups, as patients with less serious illness and those without symptoms likely play an important role in disease transmission.”

Local, state and national leaders have urged parents to avoid playdates for kids and asked they be kept away from high-risk family members, in that even asymptomatic children can pass along the virus.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently ordered the closure of parks in hopes of limiting the coronavirus’ spread on playground equipment.

When asked whether researchers have found signs that children are becoming more susceptible as the virus spreads, UIHC’s Brennan told The Gazette, “There’s no data that the disease is evolving or mutating.”

She reiterated evidence globally, nationally “and even here” that children tend to have less-severe symptoms.

“Children may have symptoms that seem like the common cold,” she said. “Coronavirus is in the family of one of the viruses that causes the common cold. So kids tend to get less-severe symptoms.”

She warned against complacency though.

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“There are children who have died,” she said. “And there are children who can get pretty sick.”

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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