At least 11 children from Flagler County have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to the health department.
Updated 4:22 p.m. Oct. 5
After spending eight days in the hospital in Jacksonville, 9-year-old Makenna Simon won her battle with pneumonia brought on by COVID-19, and she is excited to return to Palm Coast's Belle Terre Elementary School on Thursday, Oct. 7.
Makenna, her three sisters and her parents got COVID-19 in the second week of September and quarantined together, but no one had severe symptoms, according to her father, Tristan Simon. They thought it was over, until Makenna’s cough returned.
The cough was mild, but then she got a 103-degree fever. Tristan Simon and his wife, Laurie, took Makenna to Centra Care in Palm Coast, where they were told she was likely getting COVID-19 again.
But something didn’t feel right, and they decided not to take any chances. Noting that her oxygen was lower than normal, the Simons drove her to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville on Sept. 24.
Bacteria left over from COVID-19 had led to pneumonia, the doctors said, and they kept her on the maximum levels of oxygen in the pediatric unit, trying to avoid having to send her to the adult ICU.
“She was coherent, but super scared, watching her oxygen numbers drop,” Tristan Simon said. “She’s a really tough kid. She powered through it all.”
While Makenna was in the hospital, she received cards and phone calls from people all around Florida, as well as about 15 teachers from Belle Terre.
“Everybody was on our side,” Tristan Simon said.
Still, he couldn’t help but feel frustrated at the lack of social distancing, mask-wearing and a Zoom-from-home classroom option at Flagler Schools this year. Could Makenna's suffering have been avoided if last year's precautions were still in place?
“They’ve given us nothing, or they’ve just taken away any safety precautions,” he said.
While observing Makenna in the ICU, the doctors were puzzled at her lack of progress, but then they reasoned that COVID had given her anemia. They gave her blood transfusions, and the next morning, she was back to normal.
“She was like a new person,” Tristan Simon recalled. “It was the best feeling in the world. I can’t even even tell you the happiness we felt.”
She returned home to her three sisters, and they were “ecstatic.” Makenna “was beyond herself to see and hug her sisters again,” he said.
According to Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel, at least 11 children from Flagler County have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications since the pandemic began.