Renown CEO Tony Slonim talks about supplies, testing in a press conference with media on March 24, 2020 Reno Gazette Journal
Health officials in Reno are watching and waiting for a COVID-19 mystery illness that strikes children.
Cases of a rare but deadly multi-syndrome disease in children have been reported in 19 states, including California.
Officials said there are no reported cases in Nevada, but Renown CEO and President Dr. Tony Slonim said that based on models, it could be weeks before cases appear.
“This condition and how it is related to COVID is fascinating, and I think it is going to have a real human toll on our children,” Slonim said in an interview with the Reno Gazette Journal on Friday.
“I’m worried about it,” said Slonim, who has a background in pediatric medicine. “It is going to up the ante on the devastation.”
He said the cases are ticking up after the initial surge in COVID-19 cases, and they are now seeing children affected in Italy and New York.
“Does that mean in late July or August we see it?” he said.
Slonim and the Washoe County Health District said they were both on separate calls this week about the syndrome and how to prepare for it.
“We are going to have to partner pretty closely with our pediatricians and (pediatric) hospital,” said Washoe County Health District epidemiologist Heather Kerwin.
“It is concerning any time you have a population at risk for a negative health outcome related to an infection,” Kerwin said.
But she also said the number of children it is affecting appears to be small even in hot spots such as New York.
“I think proportionally we would see much fewer cases,” she said. In New York more than 10 cases have been reported and three children have died.
Slonim said there is so much still to learn about COVID-19 but it’s a new ballgame when children start to get sick.
“We don’t understand the science yet and that is the problem,” he said, adding that testing needs be done vigilantly.
“We have to get tough on testing because once we open up the school system, this is going to be a nightmare.”
The Centers for Disease Control said the multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children can appear after a child has recovered from the coronavirus or has not shown any symptoms of the disease. Symptoms including a fever, rash, change in color of the skin and lips, swollen glands, red eyes, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain and inflammation that can affect the heart, kidneys and lungs.
Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of Northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read her journalism right here. Consider supporting her work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
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