Young children with COVID-19 have doubled in recent weeks, Mississippi reports; antibody tests show 72 percent still at risk

Published 6:08 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The number of Mississippi children contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus is rapidly increasing and the bulk of Mississippi children remain vulnerable, the state reported Wednesday.

During a meeting of the Mississippi Department of Health board on Wednesday, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs reviewed recent statistical trends with COVID-19 cases in Mississippi.

“We are seeing an increased proportion of our cases in younger ages,” Dobbs told the board. “(The number of new cases has) doubled in the past couple of months in 0 to 4-year-olds, and it’s had a significant increase for our 5 to 17-year-olds.”

While Dobbs said the majority of children who contract the virus handle the illness well, some don’t. On Tuesday, seven children under the age of 17 were in ICUs across the state and two of those children were on ventilators.

Dobbs was asked if the severely ill children had underlying conditions that might have caused them to become more susceptible to severe illness.

“My early indications are that they do not have severe underlying medical issues,” he said. “But we’ll have more details to share later.”

Dobbs said he was awaiting additional details on those children’s cases from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

“Still, our 25 to 39-year-old folks make up most of the cases,” he said. “What is also very, very concerning is the 65 and older group is increasing. About one-quarter of the state of Mississippi who are 65 and older are not vaccinated.”

In addition, Dobbs said new CDC seroprevalence data looking at antibodies in the community indicates the vast majority of Mississippi’s children

“This demonstrates that 72 percent of our kids are vulnerable to COVID,” Dobbs told the board. “I do hear people erroneously assume that the vast majority of kids have had it already. That is absolutely not the case. The majority of kids are vulnerable to COVID infection. It’s a very important consideration as we think about going into the school year.

“It’s always an odds game because even though most kids don’t get it, we’re seeing an explosion of cases within young folks as they are sort of getting together for band camps and VBS, and that sort of thing, we’ve seen a deluge of outbreaks.”