There have now been 102 cases of children from infants to 21 years old in New York State that have been afflicted with an illness that are apparently related to COVID-19, accounting for three deaths.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that every one of the children, teens and young adults who have been diagnosed with Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome tested positive for either the virus or the antibodies. In 14 percent of the cases, the patients tested positive for both.
Health officials believe that the sickened children were infected at home by an adult member of the household that tested positive for the virus.
“Because it happened after the fact and does not present as a usual COVID case, it may not have been initially diagnosed as COVID cases,” Cuomo said. “COVID cases are normally respiratory.”
Instead, many of the children have suffered inflammation of the blood vessels that affect the heart, causing cardiac issues, he said. In some cases, the symptoms surfaced as much as four to six weeks after initial exposure.
The deaths include five- and seven-year-old boys and an 18-year-old female. No additional information has been released regarding the victims other than they live in three separate highly populated counties. Last Friday, Cuomo said that the five-year-old was from New York City and Westchester County officials confirmed that one of the other two victims died at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla.
Cuomo said officials in 14 other states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, and five European countries – Spain, France, England, Italy and Switzerland – have also reported cases.
The most common symptoms include a persistent fever of at least four or five days, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting, bloodshot eyes and a skin rash. Other symptoms that have been observed include difficulty feeding in infants or being too sickly to drink, breathing difficulties, a racing heart or chest pain and lethargy, irritability or confusion.
In New York State, a majority of the cases – 57 percent – are children five to 14 years old. Infants under one account for 5 percent; another 18 percent of cases are in one- to four-year-olds; 16 percent are 15 to 19 years old; and 4 percent are 20 or 21.
Just over 70 percent of the patients were placed in the ICU, 19 percent were intubated and 43 percent remain hospitalized.
Cuomo urged parents to keep a close eye on their children, particularly if they may have been exposed to COVID-19. He called it “a parent’s worst nightmare.”
“We thought that children were not specially affected by the virus,” Cuomo said. “To now find out that they might be and it might be several weeks later, is truly disturbing.”
Despite the slowly growing number of cases in the state and elsewhere, the cases remain relatively rare, health officials said.
Fourth Region on Target to Reopen
The northernmost portion of New York State on Wednesday reached the target on all seven metrics for a Phase I reopening.
The sparsely populated seven-county North Country, which includes four counties that border Canada, now joins Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier, which borders Pennsylvania, will be able to see construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, as early as Friday should they maintain the current data requirements.
Westchester and Putnam, which are in the Mid-Hudson region with Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties, remained at five categories for the third consecutive day. The categories monitor, the rate of infection, testing capacity and hospital capacity.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said he hoped that the region could reopen by next week, although under the guidelines, it may be longer. The two categories that are not being met are new hospitalizations, which require less than two per 100,000 residents, and a decline in deaths for 14 consecutive days or having fewer than five deaths on a three-day rolling average.
The Mid-Hudson region is at 2.25 new hospitalizations, down from 2.79 on Monday, and has had just three consecutive days of declining deaths, according to the state’s dashboard. The three-day rolling average is at 69 deaths for the region.
Unless there’s a drastic decline in deaths, it appears the start of a reopening may be at least 11 days away. However, Latimer said a recent spike in deaths for one day may have set the region back. He questioned whether a delay in reporting lumped more deaths into another day.
“I’m hopeful with a recalculation, we can get a reassessment and be closer to our goal than 11 days,” Latimer said.
Westchester reported seven more deaths on Tuesday, increasing fatalities in the county to 1,245. Hospitalizations fell to 498 and active cases dropped to 2,985. Putnam County has had 56 deaths.
Statewide, another 166 deaths pushed the death toll to 22,013.