On May 27, I asked Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson to ask Solano Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas a number of questions about recent increases in the number of our youth who are showing up positive for COVID-19. The Mayor passed my questions on to Dr. Matyas that day, and on May 31, he replied with answers to all eight questions – see below.
Solano County is reporting an upward trend in confirmed cases among young persons 18 and under, adding (as of today) 26 more positive cases over the last 20 days, having reported only 6 over the 5 weeks prior. (Latest update…)
MY QUESTIONS & DR. MATYAS’ ANSWERS…
- How serious are these youth cases?
- The youth cases are mostly asymptomatic, although a few have been mildly symptomatic.
- How old – teens or young children?
- While we have had a few young children, most of the youth are older teenagers.
- Any of them hospitalized?
- None have been hospitalized to date.
- Are any of them showing symptoms of the “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome likely linked to COVID”? (See Nearly 200 Cases of Severe Child COVID Syndrome…in NY, NJ)
- None so far.
- Surely the increase can be partially explained away as a result of more testing, but that doesn’t mean the numbers are any less serious. Right?
- The increased numbers are apparently the result of increased testing of asymptomatic household contacts of cases and testing of asymptomatic persons at the recently opened Optum sites in Vallejo and Vacaville; we are likely uncovering a phenomenon that has been present all along. As to seriousness, the percentage of positive youths we are seeing seems to match statewide and national numbers. These individuals, while not themselves experiencing serious illness, are nonetheless able to spread the virus to others.
- Is the County conducting contact tracing for these youth?
- Yes, just as for all positive cases.
- Does the County have sufficient staffing for contact tracing?
- So far, yes.
- What can the County and cities do to intensify communication with our young people and parents?
- Presumably, utilizing social media and school-based communication systems.
SO NOW WHAT?
I sincerely hope that parents and youth reading this will take note, and that the County and its cities and school districts will intensify communication about the serious reality of COVID-19 transmission among youth, and from youth to their elders.