NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NY Gov Andrew Cuomo have repeatedly warned about the growing number of children affected by a mysterious, possibly COVID-19-linked respiratory syndrome this week, and Newsday reported Tuesday afternoon that the number of children infected statewide has climbed to 93.
The harrowing report claimed 2 to 3 children have arrived at one Long Island hospital 'daily' in recent weeks, all of them suffering from severe inflammatory symptoms that required immediate admission to the ICU.
Two to three children are coming into one Long Island hospital daily with an inflammatory disease thought to be tied to COVID-19, health care officials said Monday.
Most of these young patients are so ill, they are immediately put into the intensive care unit at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, said Dr. James Schneider, chief of pediatric critical care medicine at the center in New Hyde Park. He said more than 30 patients have been admitted with what is being called "pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19."
Hospitals across the state by Monday had reported 93 cases of the illness, which can cause inflamed muscles and breathing problems, state officials said.
Experts who spoke with Newsday said the most popular theory is that the syndrome is likely an "overreaction" to the virus that causes COVID-19, a not-uncommon reaction to viral infection in some susceptible children.
Health experts believe the illness could be the body’s overreaction to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Parents should be on the lookout for symptoms that include a persistent high fever, rash, belly pain and vomiting. In general, most of the patients are healthy kids who didn't know they had COVID-19 and later tested positive for antibodies, Schneider said.
Schneider said he isn’t surprised these cases have been popping up in recent weeks based on early information about the syndrome.
"This phenomenon starts weeks after infection," he said. "It all makes sense that now they are showing up - at least from what we think we understand about this illness."
Last week, the NY State Department of Health issued an advisory about the syndrome and required health care providers to report all cases in people under the age of 21. State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said a team of experts is evaluating each reported case.
Some have claimed the syndrome has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease.
NYU Winthrop in Mineola has treated two patients with the syndrome, said Dr. Leonard Krilov, the hospital’s chairman of pediatrics. The most recent, a 4-year-old girl, has been at the hospital since late last week after showing symptoms of the illness, including a fever and rash, Krilov said.
Krilov said the patient is in stable condition and her vital organs are “doing well."
The hospital's first patient, a 4-year-old boy who since has been released, had a high fever, rash, abdominal pain and inflammation in his kidneys, Krilov said.
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital treated a 10-year-old boy about a week ago who had symptoms linked to Kawasaki disease, along with vomiting, diarrhea and low blood pressure, said Dr. Christy Beneri, fellowship program director of pediatric infectious diseases at the hospital.
Kawasaki disease has symptoms that are similar to the new syndrome, such as inflammation of the lips, tongue and eyes, and rashes.
NYC Mayor de Blasio said Monday that he didn't think the syndrome would impact the city's reopening plans since schools will be shuttered until at least next fall. But both he and Cuomo voiced new concerns on Tuesday, and Dr. Fauci even admonished Sen. Rand Paul over the issue of children returning to school which drew more attention to the issue.
Children have a long history of being little-impacted by viruses unless they have specific immune issues. Research so far has suggested that children aren't major carriers of the virus, which brings the decision to close schools into question. Others noted that among children affected by this new syndrome, the prevalence in underlying conditions isn't an accident. While Dr. Fauci is probably technically correct that we can't be certain children aren't a major risk of spreading the virus, that's only true in the context of it being too early in the game to say anything for certain, beyond a few basic undisputed truths, as Dr. Fauci has repeatedly explained to the public. However, the decision to be so cautious about children returning to the classroom as to suggest that it shouldn't happen for more than a year would appear to contradict the prevailing "science" suggesting children aren't major spreaders.
Stories about the virus in the UK have largely petered out as it hasn't appeared to spread widely so far. We suspect a similar pattern will emerge in the US.