Amid less masking and more mingling, doctors see early signs of severe summer cold season

Even with masking mandates in place, some pediatricians are treating many children not for COVID-19, but for common cold viruses.

Ignacio Parra Garcia of Fontana has asthma.

"While we were in lockdown, it was great. He never got sick," said his mother, Jennifer Garcia.

Recently, the 5-year-old left his protective bubble to go to kindergarten. Last week, he caught a cold.

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"He started coughing, and then the wheezing and the shortness of breath started happening," Garcia said. "That's when I became more concerned."

Those severe asthma symptoms landed him in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital.

"I did feel bad," Ignacio said.

Loma Linda University's Division Chief of Pediatrics said she's seeing more kids experiencing non-COVID viral illnesses.

During lockdown, Dr. Alexandra Clark said, "most of my patients followed the advice we had been giving for years. We've always known that good hand washing works well for decreasing colds. And also staying away from people when they're ill."

Now, with many families relaxing these measures and with less masking, Clark said the United States will probably see what other countries like Australia have experienced -- an atypical cold and flu season.



"Regular viruses spread all the time by contact -- kids in daycare, kids in school," Clark said. "So as we see these preschool kids and elementary school kids going back, we're definitely going to see a rise in these kinds of viruses."

Clark said it's important to know if you have a cold or COVID-19 to keep other people safe.

"If you are under 16 and you're not fully vaccinated, then this is something that we should test," she said.

She said especially if you have someone vulnerable -- like Ignacio -- in your family, continue to wash your hands, don't go out if you're sick and cover your cough or sneeze with the inside of your arm. Don't let down your guard.

"Even though the mask mandates are going to be decreased," Clark said, "We want children to be protected from these other viruses and illnesses that can land them in the hospital."

Ignacio said he's going to follow his doctor's orders.

"Wash your hands and go to sleep," he said.

Do what you can to keep your immune system healthy.
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