INDIANAPOLS, Ind.– As the delta variant continues to spread, more children are being hospitalized with severe COVID related illnesses.
“We’re definitely seeing a trend of an increase in cases and hospitalizations among youth,” said Dr. Brian Dixon, director of public health informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. “We’ve gone from an average of one hospitalization a day for people under 18 to now two per day, so it’s jumped up in the last couple of weeks.”
Nurses inside Riley Children’s Hospital say their patient load has nearly doubled in the last month.
“The hospital has been packed full in the last few weeks,” said Dr. John Christenson, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Riley Children’s Hospital. “No question that when you look at the numbers in the last few days, they are significantly higher than what we saw in January.”
One reason for the surge in cases among children is the return of large gatherings and mask no longer being mandated.
“What has happened is, as a nation, we let down our guard earlier this summer,” Dr. Dixon said.
Data collected by the Regenstrief Institute found the majority of children coming into the emergency room are unvaccinated.
Kids admitted are either too young to be eligible for the vaccine or chose not to get one.
“I think what we’ll see this year is hospital rates will go up over the next few weeks as cases continue to climb, but we’re probably not going to face over-capacity issues like what we saw last year,” Dr. Dixon said.
With the school year starting, experts recommend parents talk to their kids.
“The message to parents is think about asking your children to wear a mask in school even if the others around them are not,” said Dr. Dixon.