While initially the virus did not appear to have a severe effect on children, that’s no longer true, Nick Lashutka, president of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association said.
Last year, children diagnosed with COVID-19 had underlying conditions.
“In 2021, that is absolutely not the case,” he said. “The delta variant is not only more contagious, it’s Impacting kids at a fundamentally higher level than what we’ve seen to date.”
At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 has quadrupled since mid-June, said Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s.
On top of an increase of COVID cases, physicians also are seeing more RSV — Respiratory syncytial virus — cases among children, and earlier than is typical. The common respiratory virus usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms and tends to be most prevalent late fall to early spring.
“We don’t know where the peak is,” said Lashutka, “whether it’s with COVID or whether it’s with the respiratory conditions. We don’t know what this year’s flu season will bring.”
Dayton Children’s has “essentially all hands on deck,” Mezoff said.
The hospital has staff who are out because their children are at home or are sick. Some workers also are getting burned out, he added.
“Frankly, they’re getting tired and partly they’re tried because we’re not using all the tools that are available to us to limit the number of kids who have to get sick with all of these things,” Mezoff said. “Our emergency rooms are seeing numbers that they have never, ever seen at this time of year.”
To keep children healthy and in school, the health care officials encouraged people who are eligible to get vaccinated, wear a face mask when needed and practice good hygiene.
“There is overwhelming evidence that prove masks are effective and they help protect against respiratory viruses including COVID,” Mezoff said. “We as adults have to allow kids to protect themselves. That’s what masks do.”