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More kids are getting COVID; here's how you can protect them

A child gets tested for COVID-19 at a Seattle testing site on Aug. 28, 2020.
Elaine Thompson
The Associated Press file
A child gets tested for COVID-19 at a Seattle testing site on Aug. 28, 2020.

It’s been a week since Seattle Children’s Hospital reported its first patient death from COVID-19. And while serious illness remains less common in children, more kids than ever are getting the virus.

In Pierce County, 21 percent of new COVID cases were in children and teenagers. That’s 1 in 5 cases.

Outbreaks at child-care centers in the county spiked by 285 percent between late July and late August. As of Wednesday, child-care centers accounted for 12 percent of the cases originating at businesses and schools. That’s more than any other public setting except grocery stores.

Dusty Lane is a spokesperson for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Lane and his wife, who also works at the health department, welcomed their first son in November.

“We were hoping that our hard work would drive down the rate of COVID in Pierce County and protect our son when we finally sent him back out into the world. But that just hasn’t happened,” Lane said. “Our case rates are almost 10 times what they were a year ago right now.”

Lane says people think about risk differently when it comes to children. Even if it’s less likely that kids will get seriously ill or die from COVID, he says parents are still worried.

“I’d say we think about risk to our kids a little bit differently. Risk to me, I can handle. Risk to my little son? I can’t handle at all, honestly,” he said.

He says everyone assumes some level of risk every day. But this is different.

“This is another risk, and we don’t really know the long-term effects of it. We don’t really know what the delta variant – how that’s changing the game. The level of risk isn’t quite as known as you might think it is.”

Lane wants people to know that the best way to protect children is to get the vaccine.

Right now, just over half of Pierce County residents are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 COVID-19Coronavirus Coveragecovid vaccinetacoma-pierce county health department
Kari Plog is KNKX's South Sound reporter covering people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.