(KFDX) – The number of children infected by COVID-19 is increasing and experts are concerned about a new strain of the virus that seems to be spreading faster in kids.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 2.7 million children have tested positive for COVID-19.
Over the latest two-week period, there were nearly 377,000 new cases among children – a 16% increase.
Still, children are highly unlikely to die from the virus. Children account for only .19% of all COVID-19 deaths, the academy said.
But in Fort Worth, two children have died in recent days at Cook Children’s Hospital. Only one other child had died at the hospital in the months since the virus started.
J.J. Boatman of Vernon celebrated his ninth birthday just a few weeks ago.
“He was full of energy,” said his aunt Annette Cliver. “He was always running around smiling, playing, always playing with his sisters and cousins. And he was full of life.”
But Monday morning, he suddenly got very sick, Cliver said.
“One minute he was OK, you know, and then the next minute he woke up not feeling so good and didn’t look so good,” she said.
His family rushed him to the hospital and he was airlifted to Cook Children’s. He died Tuesday.
Another boy younger than one also died at the same hospital in recent days.
Experts say children generally do much better fighting the virus, but they are hardly immune to it.
One doctor said the recent increase in pediatric cases could be due to the same reason adult cases have gone up.
“You’ve got to look at the timing of the uptick,” said Dr. Curtis Galke of the University of North Texas Health Science Center. “We’ve just come off of a holiday season where a lot of people were together. So it would be expected we would have an uptick in all ages of people being diagnosed.”
There’s also concern about a new strain of the virus.
While the new type is known to spread faster, especially in children, doctors say there’s no evidence it’s any more deadly.
“The dynamic of the virus really hasn’t changed,” Galke said. “Kids get it just like adults get it. But the majority of the kids don’t have the same types of symptoms and recover very, very quickly from it.”
It’s not clear which version of the virus J.J. Boatman had.
His family said he had asthma but otherwise was healthy and active until he got so sick, so fast.
“You don’t think it’s going to happen to you or somebody you know. But it does,” his aunt said.