TAMPA, Fla.— — As students march into yet another week of school, public health experts are keeping a close eye on how COVID-19 is impacting kids. Doctors in the Tampa Bay area are even giving a glimpse behind the scenes as they treat children on the front lines.
In a video shared on social media, staff at Tampa General Hospital relayed raw testimony during this pandemic.
“We’re all pretty traumatized,” said Victoria Holland, an ICU nurse. “It’s tiresome to watch people die all the time or to be so sick that they’re reaching for their family members, that unfortunately sometimes we don’t have the time to help them talk to, but we’re doing the best we can and stay safe out there.”
TGH released another video of its “COVID Chronicles 2.0,” where doctors and nurses also shared the reality about kids and COVID-19.
“We are seeing a lot more peds patients admitted,” said Dr. Minal Ahson, a hospitalist and assistant professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. “A lot of teenagers that are needing a lot of oxygen. Kids are getting sick from this.”
Dr. Jason Salemi, an associate professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, weighed in on COVID cases and hospitalizations in kids. He explained while cases are down in the adult population, cases are up in the pediatric population.
“We’ve seen a 45 percent increase in children 12 to 19 years old and a 58 percent increase in the last two weeks in children who are younger than 12, who of course cannot be protected through a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Salemi.
Though Salemi explains children are much less likely to be hospitalized than adults, he says right now, we’ve been at about 70 new children being hospitalized each day with confirmed COVID-19.
“All else being equal, when we send kids back into schools, now being around one another, the likelihood that we were going to see increases, both because of genuine community spread, spread within the school setting, and increasing testing behaviors,” said Salemi. “So for all of those reasons, we should have anticipated that cases were going to rise in this population.”
At Johns Hopkins All Children’s, the hospital says most patients with COVID they are seeing through their emergency center can manage symptoms at home. Dr. Allison Messina, the chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, says, fortunately, they are seeing some increases in vaccination rates in the 12 and up age range, with hopefully another bright light on the horizon.
“I think it will help when, hopefully later this fall, we might see vaccines available for children five and up, which would really be great because that would take care of pretty much the entire school age population,” said Dr. Messina.