New York sharing data on Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that New York is finally “ahead” of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, as doctors and researchers learn more about the COVID-19 virus, new developments have raised concerns related to reinfection and the effect of the virus on children.

Those who recovered from the novel coronavirus were initially thought to be immune. However, the World Health Organization recently said that “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”

Similarly, claims that children are not severely affected by the virus have changed as well.

At least 85 children in New York have developed a rare illness thought to be a result of COVID-19 complications, identified this week as Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS).

New York state officials are notifying other states about the mystery illness and sharing data to help identify cases and treat patients who are showing symptoms.

The illness, which causes an inflammation of the blood vessels, has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers and an additional two deaths are currently under investigation.

Symptoms of the illness include prolonged fever, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, trouble breathing or rapid breathing. Infants may exhibit signs of difficulty in eating or drinking. A racing heart rate, chest pain, irritability and confusion are also among the symptoms younger children and teens have experienced. These symptoms overlap with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome and may occur days to weeks after acute COVID-19 illness.

PMIS has been reported in seven states and the Washington, D.C. area. New York state has the highest number of COVID-19 cases overall, and is home to 85 PMIS cases, according to Cuomo. On May 6, the New York State Department of Health issued an advisory to health care providers about the disease affecting children. 

“Thankfully most children with COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms, but in some, a dangerous inflammatory syndrome can develop,” New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. “While we continue to reduce cases through social distancing, discoveries like this remind us we are still in the middle of our response to this deadly pandemic.

“We are learning new things about the COVID-19 virus every day, and one of the most frightening new developments has been cases of COVID-related illness in children that has already taken the lives of three young New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “The State Department of Health is alerting all 49 states across the country about this evolving situation as New York continues to investigate the illness and get the facts quickly so we can help prevent any more children from getting sick.”

Gov. Cuomo urged caution to all people who believed their child could not be affected by the virus, particularly in communities of color, which are disproportionately impacted by the virus, according to recent data from the CDC.

As of May 9 at midnight, New York has tested 1,182,998 people for COVID-19. There are 335,395 confirmed cases in New York, with 2,273 new positive cases from May 8.