Northeast Ohio Doctors Report Seeing More Children In The Hospital With COVID-19!, By Isabel Lawrence, Posted December 29th 2021

As COVID-19 cases surge across Northeast Ohio, some of the youngest members of the population are also being impacted. Doctors at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital are seeing more children hospitalized with COVID-19.

Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s, said this kind of uptick in hospitalized children due to COVID is new.

“The pediatrics side wasn’t a big player in the pandemic up until this point,  we’re slammed,” she said. “This is the busiest we’ve ever been at any point during the pandemic when it comes to COVID.”

Dr. Claudia Hoyen, pediatric infection control for UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, said this winter looks different from last in terms of COVID cases in children.

“We are absolutely a part of the surge,” Dr. Hoyen said. “As most of you know, last winter as we were surging in the adults, we had a little bit of a stopgap in the kids. They were very cloistered, they were at home, they were wearing masks in school. They were safe from the strains that were circulating last year.”

Dr. Hoyen said even in the past few months, the situation has changed significantly. She said depending on the day, there can be 10 to 15 times the number of children admitted to the hospital with COVID compared to this past summer.

Additionally, this school year has looked different for some students.

“Things are very different, kids are back in school, many school districts do not have mask mandates,” Dr. Hoyen said. “We have absolutely seen that translate into the number of children that we have in the hospital.”

Dr. Edwards has also seen the impact of the more contagious delta and omicron variants in cases. While the new variants aren’t helping, she said kids most often get COVID from family.

“We worry about school and we worry about that sort of stuff, and certainly with omicron and even with delta, we did see a lot more school transmission than we used to see with COVID, and with omicron that’s only going to get worse,” Dr. Edwards said. “But it’s still true that the vast majority of pediatric COVID comes from adult or teenage family members. So if those adults and teenagers are vaccinated, that helps protect those unvaccinated one and two and three and four-year-olds.”

Dr. Edwards said one of the patterns they’ve noticed is the vast majority of kids who are hospitalized with COVID have parents who are unvaccinated.

Doctors are also now seeing children grappling with the more lasting impacts of COVID.

“Our long COVID clinic is filled through February,” said Dr. Hoyen. “We are seeing not only the acute effects of COVID with children needing hospitalization and intensive care, but we are seeing those long-term effects in children which are also taxing our resources.”

Both doctors emphasized the importance of taking measures to protect children, such as getting them vaccinated if they’re old enough, getting vaccinated as an adult to protect them, and using other precautions like masking.

“We all need to do what we can to protect our most vulnerable patients,” Dr. Hoyen said.

“There’s nothing worse as a pediatrician than watching a patient suffer in the hospital. It tears my heart out every time,” Dr. Edwards said. “I beg the parents, please go get your child vaccinated.”