Georgia’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases includes a comparable rise in the number of children getting the disease.

“These aren’t necessarily cases linked to a [school] setting, but rather cases among children who are in these age groups,’’ said Amber Schmidtke, who tracks Georgia COVID trends in the Daily Digest.

College-aged adult and young adults have a similar case rate increase over the past two weeks, Schmidtke said.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has also experienced the rise in cases.

“We are currently caring for 16 children in our hospital system,’’ a Children’s spokesperson, Allyson Wright, said Dec. 21.

“The number of children in our care with COVID-19 has fluctuated throughout the pandemic, but we are seeing an increase in numbers, likely due to holiday gatherings and travel,’’ Wright said.

Rates of illness and spread of the virus in children follow patterns like those of other age groups, she noted, although overall there is less severe illness and death among minors than among adults.

Very few deaths have occurred in the under-18 age group, according to state data.

Dr. Ben Spitalnick, a Savannah pediatrician, linked the increase in cases to the post-Thanksgiving effect.

“Unfortunately, it was just as expected, starting right about two weeks after Thanksgiving break,’’ he said Monday.

“In the youngest patients, the symptoms are usually minimal or none at all,’’ he said. “For our teens, we are seeing symptoms, generally cough and body aches, much like you would see with the flu. We expect this to only increase over the next few weeks, as a result of breaks from school leading to breaks from safe COVID practices.’’

Given the likelihood of more social gatherings and travel over the Christmas holidays, Spitalnick said, many pediatricians expect the surge after Christmas and New Year’s to be as big or bigger than the current one.

“Our teens are quite eager for social interaction, including large unmasked events for New Year’s Eve,’’ he added.

–Andy Miller, Georgia Health News

This story was reported by Georgia Health News and published here in a partnership with Reporter Newspapers.