13-year-old infects 11 family members with COVID-19 after testing negative

October 8, 2020
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    A 13-year-old girl is responsible for infecting at least 11 people in her family across four state lines with coronavirus, according to the CDC.

    Fourteen family members, including the 13-year-old, stayed at the same vacation house for a timespan ranging between eight to 25 days, per the report.

    No one wore masks or practiced social distancing. Eleven out of the 14 members tested positive for coronavirus shortly after.

    The young girl was determined to be the source of the outbreak and is believed to have been exposed in June. Prior to the trip, she went to get tested despite being asymptomatic. The rapid antigen test returned a negative result. However, soon after, she began to experience some symptoms including nasal congestion as she, her parents, and two brothers embarked for the family gathering.

    The members who contracted the virus ranged in severity. One was hospitalized while another went to the emergency room for treatment of respiratory symptoms.

    Both have since recovered.

    The report notes that six family members who did not stay in the house but visited twice for several hours and remained outdoors did not become infected. The CDC said they practiced social distancing.

    The data in the report contributes to evidence that “children and adolescents can efficiently transmit” the virus. For this reason, children who are old enough should wear face masks.

    Dr. Allison Agwu, an infectious disease pediatrician at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, told TODAY that the situation is also very “relatable” as families plan to spend the holidays together. She hopes it serves as a warning to those planning to travel and stay under the same roof this festive season.

    "Sometimes COVID isn't real for people until they have a story, (either) their story or one that looks like their story," she said.

    Agwu also advised that those who plan to get together must “limit that time.”

    “Try to be careful and then go back to your pod," she explained, referencing the CDC report. "This is a family that thought they were doing everything that they could ... and this is what happened."

    John Christenson, medical director of infection prevention for Riley Children's Health in Indianapolis, told the outlet that this story proves that false negatives may provide a “false sense of security.”

    "As it stands right now, there is no test that detects (COVID-19 in) 100% of people all the time,” he added.

    He warned that any families that are planning to stay together during the holidays should quarantine two-weeks in advance and limit contact with the outside, which also means driving to your destination if possible.

    The CDC told TODAY that the report emphasized the importance of "social distancing, mask use, and hand hygiene” to “reduce transmission in group settings.”

    The health institute said it “might have prevented this outbreak had they been used.”

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