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Delta variant drives surge in child COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As the fourth coronavirus surge grips hospitals around the country, health experts say kids are making up a large portion of infections.

According to a study by the American Association of Pediatrics, there have been nearly 500,000 child cases in the past two weeks. Children accounted for nearly 30% of all new cases in the United States last week.

Health care workers are seeing the same surge in Wisconsin, with thousands of kids testing positive for the virus over the past three weeks.

"I think there's a couple of factors," Dr. David Ottenbaker, Vice President of Primary Care at SSM Health Wisconsin, said. "If you talk about Dane County in specifics, a very high percentage of adults are vaccinated. So they are protected, and those vaccines clearly work."

Ottenbaker said the recent return to school and summer camps could also be driving the surge.

"They are now getting back into group gatherings and starting in-person schooling, so we're going to see that level of infection go up," Ottenbaker said.

Michael Thalasinos is a father-of-two and self-proclaimed advocate for masking and vaccinations. When the Delta variant first emerged in June, he spoke with 27 News about his concerns.

"Yeah I think I am worried about that because it's allegedly a little bit more dangerous for kids and more contagious," Thalasinos said.

Now, two months later, his worries have come true.

"I think that what I hope happens is that we just continue to take this seriously and that we are in a place where everyone wears masks, we don't have a problem and we can continue to learn and have a good time," Thalasinos said.

Dr. Sheryl Henderson is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease at UW-Madison. She says right now, it's more important than ever to get vaccinated, wear a mask and wash your hands.

"We are all around the country seeing high rates of transmission," Henderson said. "So everybody has to be vigilant."

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Ward Jolles

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