AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The Children’s Hospital of Georgia reported the first death of a pediatric patient, who tested positive for COVID-19, Wednesday. The Aiken County Coroner’s Office confirmed the patient was a 9-year-old boy who attended North Augusta Elementary School.
“It’s always tragic when a child dies,” Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious diseases physician, at the Medical College of Georgia, says. “The chances of them dying from COVID-19 once they get it is really only about one in 10,000. But, it’s devastating for the families of the one in 10,000. It’s especially devastating because the vaccine isn’t available for them yet.”
Unlike adults, children under the age of 12 can not be treated for COVID-19 with any treatments.
“What parents need to watch out for is worsening of systems.”
“Usually, if a child has had greater than three days of a fever and start to have any sort of chest pain, they would want to get advice from their doctor,” Dr. Carol Tarver, a pediatrician, adds.
Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious diseases physician at the Medical College of Georgia, says a key way to monitor these symptoms is for parents or guardians to check their child’s oxygen saturation.
“They sell oxygen saturation monitors at CVS or Walgreens for about $20 or so,” he explains. “That’s what they look at in the emergency room — not how their lungs sound, not if their nose is running, but are they getting enough oxygen? If the oxygen saturation goes down to the 93 to 94 percent range, that’s concerning.”
While initial symptoms can be mild, children can become severely sick weeks after they are infected. Dr. Carol Tarver, a pediatrician, says parents need to be aware of multi system inflammatory syndrome, a condition in which organs and different parts of the body become inflamed.
“That’s what’s happening to kids who have coronavirus and are ending up in the ICU, she says. “They’re having multi system organ failure. That’s what’s leading to their demise.”