State health officials reported Wednesday the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a toddler in Oklahoma.

The case was reported Wednesday morning with 11 other new cases in the state. The total is now 31 with 29 in-state and two out-of-state cases. The toddler, a patient who is younger than 4 years old, is the youngest case reported in the state.

Tulsa Health Department officials reported that one of the new cases was in Tulsa County, bringing the total COVID-19 cases here to four.

State health officials provided few details about the pediatric case. The new Tulsa County case is that of a man in his 50s. About noon Wednesday, Tulsa Health Department spokeswoman Leanne Stephens said there is no confirmed community spread in the county. The epidemiological investigation into that case remained ongoing.

COVID-19 in children has generally shown to be much milder than in adults; however, children can be carriers, Dr. Morris Gessouroun said during a news conference. Gessouroun, the chair of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma’s Children’s Hospital, spoke generally about COVID-19 and children during a Tuesday news conference and not specifically about the state’s first pediatric case.

“There’s growing evidence that spread from minimally symptomatic people, including children, exceeds that from those who are visibly ill,” Gessouroun said. “Therefore, it’s important that efforts be made by parents to take certain actions that vulnerable people become infected from exposure to children.”

Children can present minimal symptoms or no symptoms, but still be infected. While more severe infections are rare in children, Gessouroun said severe disease is “slightly more common” in infants less than a year old. Children with significant pre-existing conditions or suppressed immune systems are likewise at an increased risk. Gessouroun said these conditions can include children with lung diseases, chronic kidney or liver disease, congenital heart defects, metabolic disorders or diabetes.

“These children, in particular, should be watched closely for the key symptoms of fever, cough and, particularly, difficulty breathing,” he said during the news conference. “If this happens, parents should contact the child’s health care provider.”

Social distancing remains the guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing means staying out of group or congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others when possible. Congregate settings are public places where close contact may occur, such as grocery stores, movie theaters and stadiums.

As of noon Wednesday, Oklahoma State Department of Health officials have reported a total of 31 confirmed cases, conducted more than 400 tests and had 110 people under investigation. The disease has primarily affected adults, with 13 of the cases in the 18 to 49 age range and another 10 cases in the 50 to 64 age range. There have been five cases in people 65 and older.

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Harrison Grimwood


Twitter: @grimwood_hmg

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