Orange County sees increase in COVID-19 cases in children ages 5-14

As more and more adults get vaccinated, Orange County health officials are seeing a new trend: higher rates of COVID in children.

In Orange County, children as young as five are contracting the dangerous COVID variants, but that’s not all. County health officials now say the age group with the highest positivity rates of COVID-19 are children between the ages of five and 14.

"One potential factor is that other populations are getting vaccinated and children are not," said Alvina Chu, an epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

Five to 14-year-olds in Orange County have a 9.6% positivity rate. That’s compared to the countywide positivity rate of 7%.

"We are optimistic that as the vaccine can become available to children, that we will see a decrease in cases and a decrease in positivity in this age group," Chu said.

Health officials also point out testing in this age group is low, so doing more testing in children would even out the positivity rate.

Orange County Public Schools Spokesman Scott Howat agrees.

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FILE - A poster from the CDC in the hallway that says, "Please wear a cloth face covering" and "Maintain a distance of 6 feet whenever possible." (Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

"We’re just not seeing it at a level that’s reflective in our dashboard and our data," he said.

Of the 160,000 staff and students in Orange County Public Schools, there are currently 500 quarantining and no schools have closed since the fall.

"It’s been pretty steady between 30 and 40 cases combined staff and students each day," Howat said.

Health officials recommend parents be consistent with masks, social distancing, and avoiding large crowds with their young children, as well as getting them tested if they show signs that could be COVID.

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