Pediatric hospitalizations rising as cases surge in Shelby County

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 9:07 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Along with skyrocketing new cases, hospitals are also facing a surge of patients.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital currently has 17 kids hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s down from almost 30 just a few weeks ago.

Doctors say it’s an unfortunate trend they expected. Pediatric hospitalizations across the country have reached a pandemic high in recent weeks. This rings true for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

“What we’ve seen is that we have, over the last couple of weeks a pretty dramatic increase in the number of kids that we’ve had in our hospital. So, we’ve got as high as 28 to 29,” said Dr. Nick Hysmith, director of infection prevention at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

During the week ending January 1, the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations for children 4 and under was 4.3 per 100,000. That’s up from 2.5 per 100,000 for the week ending on December 18.

Hysmith says it highlights the need for vaccinations in all who are eligible.

“While it was disappointing to see that we’re not going to have vaccines in the less than 5-year age group, it’s also good for us to know that the process is working,’ Hysmith said.

As of Friday, there were 3,657 active pediatric COVID-19 cases in Shelby County.

HySmith says the omicron variant is much more transmissible than the delta variant and they’re seeing different symptoms among children.

“So with Delta, wave kids were coming in with really pretty significant respiratory issues,” he said. “So, difficulty breathing. They were needing supplemental O2 and then supplemental oxygen. And then a lot of them, unfortunately ending up in our intensive care unit. What we’ve seen with the omicron so far has been different symptoms. So, a lot of congestion, a lot of really sore throat.”

Hysmith encourages everyone who’s eligible, to get vaccinated in hopes that those who can’t, like children 4 and under, won’t be impacted.

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