More than 300 children with COVID-19 are in hospitals across Ohio, including Dayton Children’s Hospital, where workers are seeing a significant increase in COVID-19-related pediatric hospitalizations.
Dr. Vipul Patel, chief of pediatric intensive care at Dayton Children’s, told ABC News that the ICU is now busier than at any other time during the pandemic.
COVID-19 is only exacerbating existing health issues for many children, Patel explained, adding that many parents are shocked to see their children become so ill, and some families have even expressed regret that they did not have vaccinated their children. Nationally, about 35% of eligible children (ages 5 to 17) are fully immunized, according to federal data.
Dayton Children’s respiratory therapist Hillary O’Neil said it was particularly difficult to see children too young to understand what was happening, sick and scared.
“You can see it in the faces of the kids who can’t talk — their eyes are getting really big and they, we’re watching them struggle to breathe,” O’Neil said. “On top of that, we see their parents struggling to watch their child, and sometimes it’s just as hard as watching the kids.”
Jackie Kerby, whose baby, Enaeshya, is hospitalized with COVID-19, told ABC News, “She has these fevers at night, and they’re not going down. … I’m terribly scared.”
In the United States, more than 5,000 children are currently hospitalized with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, according to federal data. On average, hospital admissions among children have quadrupled in the past month.
-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos, Kayna Whitworth