SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — There is an alarming trend in school-aged children getting sick with COVID-19 and ending up in the hospital. The highly contagious delta variant is hitting this group especially hard, and hospitals in Utah are feeling the strain.
15-year-old Abie Martinez is one of many Utahns dealing with complications from COVID-19 months later.
“I’m not, like, as active as I used to be. I’m still pretty active but working myself up to what I used to be and getting all my stamina back…yeah it’s a little hard,” Martinez said.
Abie’s mother, Cendy Marquez, said it took Abie two weeks to recover from a cold when it usually takes him 24 to 48 hours.
“We physically went through it, our whole family did, and you know it almost took our son… like it’s hurting people, like it’s a real thing,” Marquez said.
Abie describes himself as an active teen who usually doesn’t get sick.
“I was really healthy, there was nothing wrong with me, I was good… it just came out of nowhere,” Abie said.
That’s why when he started feeling symptoms back in December, his family didn’t think it was COVID-19.
“He started to develop sensitivity to light and sound…just more of a backache type of thing, so we kind of just brushed it off” Marquez said.
However, Abie got progressively worse as the days went on.
“Fever, vomiting, he could not keep anything down, just really sick, his blood pressure would drop, his pulse was really high,” Marquez said.
His family took him to the doctor to see what was wrong.
“He was there mentally, but like his body was just like lifeless. Like he was just lying in bed, he couldn’t move, it was just scary,” Cendy said.
She said as soon as Abie got to the ER everything went downhill fast.
“All of a sudden he’s being flown out to Primary Children’s with organ failure. You know his heart shutting down, his kidneys are failing, like how does that even happen to someone who is so healthy?” Cendy said.
Abie was diagnosed with Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C. It is an immune response to COVID-19 that affects multiple organ systems including the heart and brain, according to Dr. Andy Pavia the Director of Hospital Epidemiology at Primary Children’s Hospital.
“We have cared for something over 100 cases of MIS-C at Primary Children’s Hospital,” Dr. Pavia said.
He said that number is climbing by a few cases every week and has accounted for a substantial additional number of deaths around the country.
That is why he said it is critical that people take the virus seriously, especially as we continue to see otherwise healthy kids ending up in the ICU.
“Going through all that and all that happening made me realize, ‘yeah COVID-19 is bad and kids nowadays can get super sick’,” Martinez said.
“It’s causing side effects and it’s causing all of these issues and just me not knowing what is going to be the aftermath…that’s what’s eating at me. What’s killing me is that this happened out of nowhere, what else could happen? It’s a scary thing…it’s real,” Marquez said.
Throughout this pandemic, children have made up around 10 to 11 percent of the cases in Utah. However, school-aged children now represent over 20 percent of them, according to Dr. Pavia.