Coronavirus Chronicles — Have Kids Been In On It All Along?

Evidence seems to be piling up to indicate that children have never been safe from the novel coronavirus. The previous Childhood Obesity News post mentioned some untoward deaths among the child population. This was way back, before the disease was acknowledged to be present in the United States.

For, Paige St. John and Annette Choi described how, in a handful of California counties, medical examiners remembered fatalities that were sketchy somehow. Here and there, a kid would have “mysterious inflammatory symptoms” and an illness that followed some kind of bizarre course. The Shasta County forensic pathologist would like infectious disease workups for a couple of children who died during the winter.

There were, between December and March, some weird adult cases including a man in Orange County who was an organ donor — which may or may not be a successful transmission route for the virus. A man died in Los Angeles, late in January, whose brother has repeatedly asked the medical examiner that the body be tested for COVID-19. The California Department of Public Health has been requested to take another look at several tragedies that might have been the first, undetected introduction of the virus.

The roadblock

Only the Centers for Disease Control can tell for sure, and their testing process requires competently preserved tissue from the questionable patient, which is not always available. One county had discarded samples from anyone who died before March 1, not suspecting that they might come in handy. The journalists note,

It was well into March before most California coroners and medical examiners began to routinely test decedents who fell under their jurisdiction for COVID-19, using now-familiar nasal swab tests that must be done within days of death.

Unwilling to be flooded with California’s equivalents of cold case files, the CDC is very choosy about what it takes on. Apparently, the institution will not even consider accepting a case unless the decedent looks good on paper, fulfilling certain symptomological requirements.

The problem is, we now know that a lot of people have COVID-19 who never show a symptom, and some of them appear to die from other causes. Some California officials are apathetic about the issue, believing that investigation of last fall’s deaths can do nothing to aid the present situation.

Up in King County, Washington, home of Seattle, the Medical Examiner’s office sees death as a good enough reason to order up a test, and follows a liberal nasal swab policy. County officials work with funeral homes to find testable cases whose data can add to the body of knowledge and perhaps save other lives. If they can find old blood samples, they will definitely test them for antibodies.

In New York City, the story of a boy illustrates a frightening point about transmission — sometimes, nobody knows how it happened. How does a 14-year-old get heart failure?

After cleaning out his locker at Monsignor McClancy High School on March 18 to continue school online at home, he only left the apartment once, they said, to help his mother wash clothes in their high-rise building’s laundry room. His parents and 22-year-old sister also avoided going out and the tests they have had turned up negative.

But Jack almost died from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, which now appears to be the aftermath of unrecognized COVID-19 that comes back to take another swipe at its victim. Nobody knows how he got sick in the first place, and there could be unexplained child fatalities all over the country with equally mysterious origins, that have been ignored.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Mysterious deaths of infants, children raise questions about how early coronavirus hit California,”, 06/21/20
Source: “‘Straight-Up Fire’ in His Veins: Teen Battles New Covid Syndrome,”, 05/17/20
Image by MFer Photography/CC BY-ND 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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