As the Delta variant continues to spread in New Jersey, an increasing number of Garden State children are testing positive for COVID.

During the Monday coronavirus update, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said 13 kids are now hospitalized with COVID symptoms, including 2 in the ICU.

In January, 0.8% of admissions to hospitals were among those under the age of 18; today it’s 2.6%, she said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 72,000 children tested positive for COVID in the last week of July, an increase of 84% over the prior week.

She noted COVID illness in kids that requires hospital care is increasing fastest in states with lower vaccination rates, like Florida and Texas.

She said long haul or prolonged symptoms of COVID are also being seen in children, although not as frequently as in adults, and “the symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, brain fog and malaise.”

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“Also children who have tested positive for COVID-19 may suffer from multisystem inflammatory syndrome, we’ve had over 130 cases in New Jersey,” Persichilli said.

She noted children generally recover, but recovery can be slow.

“So all of these developments point to an urgent need for everyone to get vaccinated, especially for parents to take their 12 to 17 year olds to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” she said.

Persichilli said towards that end there will be multiple back-to-school vaccination events across the Garden State in the next few weeks.

She said while vaccination remains the best way to fight COVID, hand washing, masking and social distancing are also important.

Since the pandemic began there have been just under 115,000 COVID cases in kids under the age of 18, according to state Health Department data.

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