Child COVID-19 numbers up, but doctors confident about treatments

Schools were shut for months statewide at the start of...

Schools were shut for months statewide at the start of the pandemic, but medical experts now believe children are less likely to be infected with the virus in an education setting where they are wearing masks, keeping their distance and cleaning protocols are followed. Credit: Craig Ruttle

The number of new child COVID-19 cases for the week ending Nov. 26 was close to 154,000 — the highest weekly increase since the pandemic started in March, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But local doctors expressed confidence in the treatments they have for children who contract the virus.

For the more seriously ill children, they are staying away from using ventilators and starting steroids earlier. And they also have learned better ways of monitoring kids who test positive but have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

"We’re picking patients up earlier now because everyone's aware of it, which is great," said Dr. James Schneider, chief of pediatric critical care medicine at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park. "Testing has helped out a ton."

Although severe illness from COVID-19 is still considered rare in children, the American Academy of Pediatrics said there is an "urgent need" to gather more data on how it impacts their physical, emotional and mental health. In addition, children without symptoms still pose a risk because they can pass the virus to other family members.

"Children, especially those in the 12-18 age range, can transmit the virus just as effectively as adults," said Dr. Christina Johns, a pediatrician and senior medical adviser for PM Pediatrics.

Johns said the number of young patients testing positive for COVID-19 at PM Pediatrics' urgent care centers in New York jumped from 1.7% in October to 5.3% in November.

It’s not clear how many children on Long Island have tested positive for the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association are working together to collect publicly available data from states. But some of that data has limitations.

The chart below shows the daily totals of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Nassau and Suffolk in recent days.

These bars track how many patients are currently hospitalized for...

These bars track how many patients are currently hospitalized for coronavirus each day by the location of the hospital. Credit: Newsday

Search a map, and view charts showing the latest local trends in cases, deaths and more.

New York will let federal government administer first vaccinations

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran launched the "We Can Do...

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran launched the "We Can Do It, Nassau!" campaign Friday, using the World War II image of "Rosie the Riveter" to raise public awareness about and build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

New York is going to sign on to a program ceding to the federal government the job of vaccinating nursing home residents and staff when the COVID-19 vaccine arrives in the state, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, appearing to move toward closer cooperation with the national effort to curtail the virus.

He said the federal government is offering the initiative that involves using its contractors for medical services to start the vaccination program in states that choose to accept the help.

"We are going to opt in to that program, so the federal government will be vaccinating nursing home residents and nursing home staff," Cuomo said.

Cuomo had previously criticized President Donald Trump and his administration for a vaccination program that he had said would leave the states carrying the costs of administering the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Nassau County is launching a new public health awareness campaign promoting confidence in the new coronavirus vaccine and urging residents to participate when it becomes widely available.

"We need 75 to 85 percent of the public to take the vaccine so we can get back to normal," County Executive Laura Curran said Friday. "But polls show that half of Americans are skeptical of the vaccine — they have doubts, they have reservations about getting the vaccine — I understand that."

Cuomo announced Wednesday that New York expects its first delivery of vaccines to arrive on Dec. 15, with more to follow weeks later.

Dr. Ajay Lodha, a 'COVID warrior,' dies at 57

Dr. Ajay Lodha of Herricks treated coronavirus patients early in...

Dr. Ajay Lodha of Herricks treated coronavirus patients early in the pandemic before contracting the illness himself. Credit: Amit Lodha

Dr. Ajay Lodha fought valiantly against COVID-19, both as a doctor and a patient.

The internist treated patients with COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic in March, said his son, Amit Lodha, adding that his father wore plastic trash bags on his body and paper towels on his face when personal protective equipment supplies ran low.

"He is someone who put his life on the line," his son said. "He was a COVID warrior, and more importantly, he encouraged others to be COVID warriors. He told others, ‘We’ve got to help. We’ve got to help.’ "

Ajay Lodha, a resident of Herricks, contracted COVID-19 and died on Nov. 21 from virus-related complications after an eight-month battle with the illness, his family said. He was 57.

"When he first went into the hospital, he told me, ‘I’m going to fight like a warrior,’ " said Dr. Suresh Reddy, a close friend of Lodha. "That’s exactly what he did."

'Take what you need, leave what you can'

Mary Kate Tischler, of Seaford, with her daughter Ruby, 6, have...

Mary Kate Tischler, of Seaford, with her daughter Ruby, 6, have set up the Sharing Table in front of their home. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Mary Kate Tischler and her daughter, Ruby, 6, have a routine: They place canned goods, nonperishable food and toiletries on a long table on their front lawn. They retreat back into their Seaford home. And they wait.

This is Tischler’s Sharing Table. After being inspired by a magazine article about a woman in Michigan who collects and gives away essential goods, Tischler created her own version of the community initiative.

The message of her table is the same: "Take what you need, leave what you can, if you can."

"I just thought it was such an easy yet effective way to help local people," Tischler said.

More to know

A mansion in Brookhaven where Suffolk police early Monday broke up...

A mansion in Brookhaven where Suffolk police early Monday broke up a planned party with between 300 and 400 hundred attending. Credit: Chris Ware

Suffolk police are issuing subpoenas to find whoever tried to throw an illegal party in a Brookhaven mansion that attracted hundreds.

Americans couldn’t resist gathering for Thanksgiving, driving only slightly less than a year ago and largely ignoring the pleas of public health experts, data from roadways and airports shows.

Economic recovery "is weakening" in the metropolitan area because of a spike in cases, targeted restrictions in hard-hit communities and the end of federal stimulus programs, New York’s top bank said. More than a million New Yorkers receiving a special form of unemployment aid meant for gig workers and the self-employed could lose their benefits after Christmas if Congress doesn’t move to extend the assistance, according to data.

Joe Biden will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, he said, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he's pushed before.

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Treat yourself to one of LI's best pizzas. In 2020, pizza really showed us what it is made of. As Long Island’s dining scene imploded, pizza remained a reliable, versatile and inexpensive source of delight. See the 22 local pies our food critics ranked the best.

Coming soon to a living room near you. Warner Bros. Pictures announced that all of its 2021 film slate — including a new "Matrix" movie, "Godzilla vs. Kong" and the Lin-Manuel Miranda adaptation "In the Heights" — will stream on HBO Max at the same time they play in theaters.

Hamptons festival goes virtual, but bigger. This year's Hamptons Doc Fest has gone virtual, but that doesn't mean it's been scaled back. In fact, the festival, which runs Friday through Dec. 13, has been expanded from five to 10 days and is reaching out to what could be its broadest audience yet.

Mariah saves Christmas. "Mariah Carey's Magical Christmas Special" premieres today on Apple TV Plus. The show finds Santa facing "a holiday cheer crisis" and he turns to the global music star (and Long Island native) as the "one person who can save the day."

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Commentary

Medical staff assist a COVID-positive patient who was crying out...

Medical staff assist a COVID-positive patient who was crying out that he could not breathe, at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, on April 14. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

Cuomo: Schools offer smart lessons about COVID-19 spread. In an Op-Ed published by Newsday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo writes: Almost everyone who has moved into adulthood still remembers lessons learned from the teachers of our youth. The lessons stay with us because they are powerful and true. Even today, we can still learn important lessons from our schools and teachers — lessons that will help us navigate the dangers of this pandemic and help save lives.

During the year, we have conducted hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests in our schools. Without exception, the infection rate in schools in every part of the state is lower than the surrounding community.

Infection rates on average in schools are under 3%. Even in yellow zones, where community spread is more than 5.3%, school infection rates are lower. Massapequa Park, for example, has a community infection rate of 6.6%, but the schools are 3.5%. Elsewhere on Long Island, Hauppauge’s infection rate is 6%, but the school rate is 1.8%. In New Hyde Park, the community infection rate is 3.4%, while the school rate is 1.5%. In Ronkonkoma, the community infection rate is more than 7%, while the school rate is 2.6%. In Syosset, the community infection rate is more than 3%, while the school rate is 1.6%. In Southampton, it’s 2.8% in the community and 1.1% in schools.

As parents know, schools are usually places where illnesses spread easily. But in the case of COVID-19, the safest place in the community is truly the school. That’s because schools follow basic rules. The students and teachers wear masks. They practice social distancing. They frequently wash their hands. Many of the students are serious about doing their part to keep their friends and families safe.

They should be an example to us all. Continue reading.

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