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IU Health doctor provides perspective, insight on spread of COVID-19 among children

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A local doctor is providing a personal perspective on the spread of COVID-19 among children. He says the solution starts within the community.

There is a gradual increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana, even hospitalizations secondary to the infection.

IU Health Dr. John Christenson says it’s sad to see how much disregard there is for the preventive measures that are necessary to control the infection. He says there are things school districts can do to protect children, but ultimately it’s up to parents to control coronavirus in the community. For example, such doing such things as making children wear a mask can make a difference. He says the effects can be seen in two or three weeks.

Dr. Christenson is the medical director for Infection Prevention at Riley Hospital for Children. He says the majority of patients with the virus have very short stays or go into the emergency room and are able to go home. Now that time for school has approached, Dr. Christenson personally believes the balance of virtual learning versus in-person instruction is something that has to be considered when there is so much activity of COVID-19 in the community. He says social distancing is key and how you do that is minimizing the number of children at school.

“Virtual education may be indicated for some but hybrid education perhaps would be better than no in-person education because especially in younger children they benefit from those interactions of being with other children,” Dr. Christenson said.

Since the pandemic, one child has died at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health from the infection. Dr. Christenson believes people feel too confident that the disease doesn’t occur very severely in young children. But he says the statistics say otherwise.

Across the state, all schools have put into place safety measures including mask-wearing, social distancing, extensive cleaning and other measures to try to curb the virus. Some districts are also doing regular health screenings of students.