As vaccination rates lag and the new Delta variant surges, COVID-19 infection rates among kids have risen and children’s hospitals are seeing a spike in medical care needs among the young patients. The surge is also stacking upon an unseasonable spike in respiratory illnesses among children typically seen only in winter. That has shrunk the bed space further in children’s hospitals and expanded on the unrelenting demand on doctors and nurses. At least 81 children in the U.S. died of COIVD-19 between March and July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and many doctors warn that the situation is likely to get worse.
Children too young to be vaccinated are being infected because a member of their household, often a parent, brings the coronavirus home. Oftentimes, it is because an adult in the home is unvaccinated. But children who live with vaccinated adults are obviously just as vulnerable to infection when outside the home.
The COVID-19 spike hit the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, children’s hospital in mid-July and brought its monthly total to 75 cases — the highest number of coronavirus hospitalizations during the entire pandemic. With 27 children admitted to the emergency room over the first four days of August, the hospital has already seen more child hospitalizations than it saw in the entire month of June. Combined with the rise in out-of-season virus infections this summer, the hospital has been at bed capacity for weeks and the number of COVID-19 cases among kids is projected to grow for the next two to three months. It remains particularly concerning as children under 12 remain the most vulnerable to Covid since they are not yet able to receive the vaccinations.
I just had a very sobering phone call with Dr. Mark Kline, infectious disease expert, & physician in chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. He told me:
•18 kids are hospitalized with COVID
•9 are under the age of 2
•6 r n ICU
•3 are on ventilators, including a 1 month old
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 9, 2021
Children’s hospitals in areas seeing a surge in COVID19 cases are experiencing the same pattern: More children are coming in with Covid symptoms just ahead of the start of the school year. Bed shortages and overworked doctors and nurses in children’s hospitals are becoming commonplace in states like Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and especially Florida, which is experiencing such a high rate of cases a health expert said if the state was a foreign country, its borders would be closed.
The COVID hospitalization rate in Florida is 12x higher than in Maine, per capita right now. https://t.co/ufVIppfq1e
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) August 9, 2021