admitted currently as we have had in any other wave,” Dr. Elaine Cox, the chief medical officer for Riley Children’s Health in Indiana, told reporters on Tuesday.
Cause for concern
While serious illness from COVID is still rare for younger children, the sheer number of new cases worries doctors.
Doctors are seeing the severity rise among the children who are admitted to the hospital, according to Cox. “So there are more of them, and they are sicker.”
“It seems like people have tried to downplay the significance of the disease in children,” said Dr. Mark Kline, the physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “We’ve spent two years rebutting myths pertaining to COVID and children, that it’s ‘harmless’ for children. It’s not.”
As of Monday, 14 children were sick enough with COVID-19 to be hospitalized at Kline’s facility, with three in intensive care. The three children are under the age of 2. The youngest is just 8 weeks old, Kline said.
More than three-quarters — 78 percent — were hospitalized because of COVID complications. About half needed help breathing, and nearly a third were placed in intensive care. A third of the 915 patients had no underlying health problems that would have put them at greater risk for severe COVID infection.
“I think a lot of parents have been relying on the narrative that if you have a healthy child, it’s very unlikely that your child can get sick from COVID. That’s not true,” Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease expert at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told NBC News.
“It is true that statistically speaking, your kid probably won’t have severe COVID, but statistics don’t matter when it’s your child who ends up getting sick,” she noted.
Edwards adds that she and her colleagues have seen a “significant uptick” in the number of children admitted to the hospital recently with COVID-19, as well as an increase in the number of children needing IV fluids, oxygen support and, in some cases, ventilation.
Doctors say the vast majority of children hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, because they are too young to be eligible or their parents declined to get them immunized.
More than 1,000 kids have died in the US from COVID during the pandemic so far, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 830,000 people have died in the US from COVID so far.
“It’s a bit of wishful thinking to say, ‘Well, it’s mild,’ or ‘It’s going to be OK,’ but if there are 10 times as many cases, that still equates with