More kids catching COVID-19 before heading back to school

SPOKANE, Wash. – Right before students head back to school, more kids are getting COVID-19.

More children are going into hospitals nationwide and closer to home. It’s concerning as hospitals are trying to keep up with the current surge right now.

Since the beginning of August, more than 800 kids 18 and younger have tested positive for COVID-19 in Spokane County. While kids make up 16 percent of total cases in the county, more kids are starting to be hospitalized.

In August already, seven kids in Spokane County were hospitalized. This is the third-highest since the start of the pandemic. The highest was in January when 12 kids were hospitalized. In recent weeks, the Spokane Regional Health District said kids who were hospitalized were younger than 12, which means they can’t get vaccinated. No COVID-19 vaccines are eligible for kids younger than 12. Health leaders are now saying that might not happen until the end of this year.

“Kids are now being admitted to the hospital with their primary diagnosis of COVID. That was not true during the January surge,” said Dr. Michael Barsotti, the chief administrative officer for Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

Barsotti, who is also the president of Washington’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says he and other health experts aren’t exactly sure why more kids are getting hospitalized because of COVID.

“With this Delta variant, we’re beginning to see more sick kids. We’re not sure whether they’re getting sicker because of Delta or because we’re just seeing more kids get exposed to the Delta virus and therefore seeing bigger numbers come through,” Barsotti said.

The Delta variant is more than two times as contagious compared to previous variants. If one person were to be infected by the original COVID strain, they could infect two other people. However, with the Delta variant, if one person had it, it could infect five others.

The best way to help kids, Barsotti says, is to get vaccinated and wear a mask, regardless if you’re vaccinated or not. He says this could help minimize the spread of the virus help kids stay in school this year, which will help them mentally and emotionally.

Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital is bracing for the winter already, Barsotti said. He said they’re talking with two other children’s hospitals in the state to figure out the coming months as they believe more kids will be coming in due to COVID, the flu and RSV season.

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