Eleven children who have come down with symptoms possibly related to COVID-19 have been hospitalized at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, including one boy who has died.
Westchester County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said that the children are among the 64 youngsters that have been documented statewide with Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.
So far symptoms include a combination of one or more problems such as persistent fever of more than four days; severe abdominal pain; vomiting and/or diarrhea; a body rash; swollen hands or feet; and enlarged lymph nodes, Amler said.
During Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s briefing early Friday afternoon, it was reported that that number statewide now totals 73 children. A child who died on Thursday was a five-year-old New York City boy, Cuomo said.
Dr. Michael Gewitz, the physician-in-chief at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, said that all 11 children with the syndrome at the hospital had been exposed to someone at home with COVID-19 and tested positive themselves. All but a child who died, who is different from the New York City boy, are doing well. The children range from a few months old to teenagers, he said.
He urged parents that if one or more of the symptoms appear in their child, particularly if someone at home has tested positive for the virus, they should immediately contact their health provider.
“While COVID-19 is likely to infect a large number of children, most of whom, or at least many, are totally asymptomatic, this particular complication is relatively infrequent, unusual so far,” Gewitz said. “While we have seen a cluster of cases so far, in the whole picture of the total COVID experience in childhood, this remains a relatively infrequent possibility.”
He said in a few cases, including the boy who died, there seems to be some neurological issues related to the syndrome. That death is being investigated to see if the child had any underlying medical issues.
Dr. Dial Hewlett, the county’s chief of communicable disease, said the children hospitalized in Westchester presented symptoms four to six weeks after initial exposure to COVID-19 was documented. The symptoms appeared two to four days before they were hospitalized, he said.
Gewitz stressed the outcomes are positive if medical treatment is sought early. All of the children have spent time in the pediatric ICU.
“Early intervention in a comprehensive setting with the entire range of intensive child care supports available is important,” he said.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.