New data finds majority of New Mexico’s COVID-19 cases in children are mild and in the Northwest region

Coronavirus New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New data shows New Mexico has one of the highest percentages of kids diagnosed with COVID-19, but medical experts say that doesn’t necessarily mean there are more cases here. The New Mexico Department of Health says around 12% of New Mexico’s COVID-19 cases are in children and teens — compared to a national average of about 3% — but they say that rate could be because the state is testing more people.

“We have seen the percentage of positive cases going up,” said Dr. Janis Gonzales, Maternal Child Health Director at the NM Dept. of Health. “It could mean we have more kids than other states but it could also just mean that we’re finding more of our cases.”

There are cases of the coronavirus in kids across the state. However, the majority are in one region. “The pattern is following basically the same pattern that we’re seeing in the total cases,” said Gonzales. “About 60% of the child cases are in the northwest region, mostly tribal.”

As for how they’re getting it, the state is doing extensive contact tracing. They say it’s likely most cases got it from someone in the same household.

“There’s new data out this week that suggests that most kids do get it from family members,” said Dr. David Scrase, the state’s Human Services Secretary, “but the extent at which kids play together, touch each other, particularly smaller kids who don’t know what six feet is.”

Health experts say almost all of the cases are very mild. A majority usually settle in the upper respiratory system, while some show gastrointestinal issues as an early symptom.

“Even though we have a higher percentage of our positive cases, we don’t have a higher percentage of hospitalized kids,” said Gonzales. “It’s between one and two percent that get hospitalized, and for the most part, those are kids who have pre-existing conditions.”

These conditions can include obesity, diabetes and long-term lung and heart diseases. Local doctors are, however, keeping an eye on a rare disorder that sometimes shows up in kids, three to four weeks after a positive test.

“There’s been over 200 children worldwide who either during or right after their infection with COVID, developed what’s called Multi-System Inflammatory Disorder,” said Scrase, who says it’s similar to Kawasaki Disease.

Gonzales says if your child has previously tested positive for COVID-19 and now has symptoms like rash, stomach pain, fever, red lips and tongue, swollen lymph nodes and red eyes, call your doctor. As of now, there are no known cases in New Mexico. Doctors say it’s too early to tell if kids who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or the inflammatory disorder will face long-term effects.

According to the NMDOH, many families have not come in yet for routine vaccinations. Some pediatricians are more worried about outbreaks of diseases that haven’t been seen in a while, like whooping cough and measles.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resources

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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