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COVID-19 surge affecting babies, children and teens

“Almost all of the children we've seen here in the hospital who are seriously ill, are unvaccinated,” he said.

NEW ORLEANS — Hospitals around the area are seeing a big jump in the number of babies, children, and teens, severely ill from COVID-19.

“To see children suffer, particularly unnecessarily, is tough to stomach day in and day out,” said Dr. Mark Klein, Physician-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital and a Professor of Pediatrics at LSUHSC and Tulane.

The surge in COVID-19 cases we've been talking about for a few weeks is now hitting the youngest in our community.

Young people are getting sick and needing critical care in higher numbers from the Delta variant. And it's already taken one young patient's life.

The virus we thought was most dangerous to seniors, now has new victims.

“We've seen an explosion of COVID cases over the past couple of weeks here at the hospital. The Delta variant of the virus really has been a game-changer. It's making children much sicker than they were before,” he said.

And it's happening at Children's Hospital and at Ochsner.
Across Louisiana and Mississippi at Ochsner Health Systems, positive tests keep steadily rising. Last week, only one minor was hospitalized. Today it's eight.

  • Ochsner Health:
    0-19-year-olds
    July 11 15.5% positivity
    July 18 20.8% positivity
    July 25  21.8% positivity
  • Hospital admissions:
    Last Week: 1
    This Week: 8

But the most dramatic rise is at Children's Hospital. Monday, there were just four young patients hospitalized. Thursday it's 20. Throughout the entire pandemic, the most COVID patients they had at one time, was seven. Five of the youths are in the ICU. One family is devastated tonight after their child did not make it.

  • Children's Hospital admission :
    0-17-year-olds
    Monday: 4 total
    Thursday: 20 total
    In the past, 7 maximum
    5 in ICU
    One death

“The majority of the children we're seeing today were otherwise healthy, They're just fine one day, and sick the next.”

Pediatrician and infectious disease physician Dr. Klein, says the suffering is so unnecessary.

“Almost all of the children we've seen here in the hospital who are seriously ill, are unvaccinated,” he said.

The vaccine is approved for 12 and older. He is very confident to recommend it to protect all family members and especially young children who are not eligible yet.

“To put an end to this pandemic once and for all, otherwise we're going to be facing these surges recurrently over a long, long period of time. I mean years or decades,” said Dr. Klein.

He says it's not only the young patients and families who are heartbroken and stressed but the medical staff as well.

“Not only the doctors, but especially the nurses, who are at the bedside all day long, or all night long. Many of them are young parents. They have kids of their own that are about the same age.”

He's concerned more unvaccinated children and teens will soon need hospital beds with infections, such as COVID, RSV, the upcoming flu season out there, all while school is starting.

Dr. Klein said to bring children to see a doctor right away if there's difficulty breathing, high fever, diarrhea, dehydration, or if they stop eating or drinking.