Child Covid deaths more than doubled in Florida as kids returned to the classroom
TALLAHASSEE — Florida reached another grim Covid milestone amid the Delta surge: Since August, the number of Covid-related child deaths in the state has more than doubled.
The childhood fatalities have left pediatric experts deeply concerned about how the virus will affect youngsters in the months ahead as children interact in classrooms, even as the overall number of infections and hospitalizations in the state appears to be cresting.
The deaths also pose a political threat to Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his 2022 reelection bid. The GOP governor has built a national reputation for resisting coronavirus restrictions and has spent weeks fighting against school districts that want to require students to wear masks in schools.
A POLITICO analysis of weekly Covid-19 reports from the Florida Department of Health shows that 10 children under the age of 16 died from Covid-19 from July 30 to present as the Delta variant — which is much more transmissible — became the dominant strain. Previously, a total of seven kids died from the virus from the beginning of the pandemic through July, amounting to a span of more than 15 months.
The state now has seen 17 deaths, and American Academy of Pediatrics Florida President Lisa Gwynn said many of them may have had underlying medical conditions when they became infected.
“Having said that, it doesn’t mean we’re not worried sick about it,” Gwynn said during a Sept. 3 interview. “We’re all worried because we’re not sure what’s going to happen in the future.”
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