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Ohio Children's Hospitals sound the alarm on COVID-19 impact on kids

Nationwide Children's Hospital on June 16, 2021. (WSYX)
Nationwide Children's Hospital on June 16, 2021. (WSYX)
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Members of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association came together Tuesday to express growing concerns over COVID-19 and the impacts of the aggressive delta variant on kids.

Currently, in Columbus, Nationwide Children’s Hospital has 26 kids hospitalized with Covid, nine are in the ICU, and five are on a ventilator.

Healthcare leaders are saying this is not like 2020 where kids were not getting very sick. Now, previously healthy children are ending up hospitalized with COVID-19.

“In recent weeks, COVID positivity rates have increased. Ohio’s average pediatric positivity rate is over 10%, so 1 in 10 kids,” said Tim Robinson, CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Columbus is not the only Ohio city seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases amongst children.

“Down here in Cincinnati, we tested over 8,000 children for COVID last week,” said Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, Chief of Staff with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “Over 800 were positive.”

The increase in COVID-19 cases is largely to blame on the Delta variant.

“Throughout the pandemic, kids have rarely needed to be hospitalized due to COVID-19,” said Patricia DePompei, RN, MSN, President of UH/Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “However, as of this morning, we have collectively more than 70 children who are being treated in our Ohio children’s hospitals as inpatients.”

The growing positivity numbers are now putting another strain on hospital staff.

“At the beginning of this crisis, we were able to deploy our pediatric staff to perform testing and to be able to work in different capacities, and we’re just not able to do that now because we are so short-staffed,” said Dawn Buskey, President of ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital.

In addition to the coronavirus, there has also been an unseasonably large climb in RSV cases, a respiratory illness common in the winter. Healthcare leaders are worried that if the current trends continue, things may get worse in the coming months.

“We haven’t even seen the impact of the flu yet,” said Robinson.

Doctors across the state are urging Ohioans to turn this around by taking precautions and getting vaccinated. Stating, this will protect you and kids, and keep kids in school.

“If they can’t be vaccinated, you can help by getting yourself vaccinated to protect that child that can’t be vaccinated,” said Dr. Manning-Courtney.

“Our other tool is facial coverings, masks. These are critically important,” said Dr. Adam Mezoff, Chief Medical Officer & Vice President of Dayton Children’s Hospital. “They are safe, they are effective, we have providers in them all day. It does not lower their oxygenation level, we’ve used them in surgeries for centuries now.”

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Members of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association adding that we could see emergency authorization approval of vaccines for those ages 5-11 soon. Potentially, by the end of the year.

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