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Less than 1% of Georgia’s COVID-19 cases have occurred in people under age 12. GPB’s Ellen Eldridge hears from a 9-year-old girl about the symptoms she feels.

Kira Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 April 6, 2020, and had a low-grade fever more than a month.
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Kira Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 April 6, 2020, and had a low-grade fever more than a month.

While children have died from the coronavirus disease in the United States, less than 1 % of Georgia’s overall COVID-19 cases have happened in people under age 12.

Though children are usually spared harsh symptoms of the disease, 15 children in New York City are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 associated multi-system inflammatory syndrome. One of the reported symptoms is prolonged fever, which a Georgia girl is also complaining about.

Jeannie Johnson says her 9-year-old daughter, Kira, is on her 52nd consecutive day of fever as of Tuesday, May 5.

In mid-March, Kira developed a fever and started wheezing, but doctors said the girl's symptoms did not warrant testing for COVID-19.

That was about the same time a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that children made up less than 1% of COVID-19 cases in China. As of March 8, the study said,  a 10-month-old had died of the disease. That child had bowel blockage and multi-organ failure and died four weeks after admission to the hospital.

The first infant death in the United States from COVID-19 happened in Chicago, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported on March 28.

Kira Johnson received a positive test result for COVID-19 on April 7.

She has underlying mitochondrial and metabolic medical conditions, her mother said.

"So, we have to be really conscious of her energy expenditure," Jeannie Johnson said. "So fighting the fever has been tricky. She also has epilepsy."

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Because of Kira's conditions, her mother pays close attention to how she feels and acts.

“We were told she didn't have it — not once, not twice, not even three times. FOUR TIMES we were told by medical professionals that she did not have it," Jeannie Johnson posted on social media shortly after Kira tested positive for COVID-19.

That meant Kira's dad likely had the disease as well, according to doctors at the private testing facility in Alpharetta.

"We paid for the $185 test and the doctor swabbed (Kira) from the car and  said, 'Well, if she's positive, your husband's positive because their symptoms are exactly the same,'" Jeannie Johnson said. "They didn't test my husband."

 

Since then, Kira’s had a continuous low-grade fever and several night terrors.

“Oh, I'm feeling so icky about this virus it's just that my brain's going like wacko at night," Kira Johnson said. "I just can't sleep properly.”

In New York City, the 15 patients aged 2 to 15 years who have been hospitalized from April 17 to May 1, 2020, all reported fever and more than half reported rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, the NYC health department said.

Despite following up with Kira's pediatrician and infectious disease specialists, doctors haven't offered advice for the family beyond recommending continued self-isolation.

Kira still has a fever as of Tuesday morning, and Jeannie Johnson said her husband is feeling more congestion. But all doctors say is to visit the emergency room if respiratory symptoms worsen.

"Nobody knows," Jeannie Johnson said. "The answer I've gotten is, 'We don't really know.' Over and over and over."

Data as of Monday, May 4, 2020, shows confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia affect less than 1% of children under age 12.
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Data as of Monday, May 4, 2020, shows confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia affect less than 1% of children under age 12.

Jeannie and Kira Johnson.
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Jeannie and Kira Johnson.