Norfolk, Virginia – Currently, 2,100 children are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States. The rise is in line with older adults as COVID-19 spreads after the holidays.
So far, 16 children in Virginia have died from the virus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and positive cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. That’s true for the King’s Daughters Children’s Hospital in Hampton Roads, where the hospital has been capped and records are broken for positive cases.
The doors of CHKD are working overtime this week as a steady stream of young patients head to the already bustling hospital.
“Overnight we had 310 new patients positive. The day before, 200; the day before that, 100. Really since Christmas there has been an explosion in the number of new patients positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Laura Sass. , an infectious disease specialist with coronary heart disease.
Sass says the numbers are record-breaking — the highest since the start of the pandemic.
“The last time we had a bigger increase was when Delta came out — that was in the fall,” Sass said. “The highest at that time was 50 to 70 a day.”
Of the record numbers this week, only 12 patients have been hospitalized, and all of them are not immunized.
“The age range is 21, and we’re seeing kids as young as 1-2 weeks old, and college students coming back as well,” Sass said.
Sass says she thinks this is the omicron variant in action.
“At this time, given the community spread, if you have cold and respiratory symptoms, you should assume you have COVID-19 and isolate,” Sass explained.
The CHKD tests hundreds of children a day, receiving 11,000 tests last month alone, but SAS says you shouldn’t come to the emergency room for a test.
“We are operating at full capacity and running tests as quickly as we can, but we don’t need you in the emergency room if you don’t need emergency services,” she said.
Her best advice is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are widely available for children age 5 and older, and boosters are available for those age 16 and older.
“Please, please, please vaccinate,” she said. “It helps us reduce the number of patients seeking emergency and inpatient care.”
According to Sass, 432 children have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in CHKD since the beginning of the pandemic. Sass said only one has been vaccinated.
A record number of positive cases sweeping the hospital prompted a new policy, which will go into effect Thursday to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To protect patients, family members, and staff, CHKD limits the visit to certain visitors, who must be parents or guardians for the duration of each inpatient stay. Only one visitor at a time is allowed at the bedside.
Medical assistants who assist with activities of daily living are always permitted.