Ky. Children Are Getting COVID-19 In The Highest Numbers Of The Pandemic
During the height of the previous COVID-19 surge in January 2021, Norton Children’s Hospital saw up to three COVID-positive pediatric patients in total. One of those cases was serious enough to send to the ICU.
Now, those numbers look different.
“This morning, we had 11 in-patients and four ICU patients,” said Dr. Mark McDonald, medical director of Norton Children's Hospital. “In general, each day we get three new admissions of COVID patients.”
None of the children currently being treated for COVID-19 at Norton Children’s have been vaccinated against it, according to McDonald. He says that half of the hospitalized children are 12-years-old or younger and half are older than 12.
Children are experiencing long-haul symptoms seen in adult COVID-19 cases. They have fatigue, fogginess, headaches and mitochondrial dysfunction affecting them, even after testing negative.
“I’ve even seen a couple with accommodation, meaning they are unable to focus when they read, so the virus has affected the ciliary muscle,” McDonald said at a press conference Tuesday.
The increasing number of children contracting coronavirus comes as schools go back to in-person learning this year.
In Jefferson County Public Schools alone, 209students tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 900 were quarantined. That’s after the first week of in-person classes.
The Kentucky Department of Education mandated masks for all Kentucky schools for 270 days. The decision came after some counties had already gone back to school and had an influx of COVID-19 cases. Lee County, in Eastern Kentucky, shut down its schools for three days due to the number of coronavirus cases and quarantines it was seeing.
In addition to a general surge of COVID-19 cases, breakthrough cases have become an increasing concern for vaccinated people.
Breakthrough cases refer to a person who is fully vaccinated contracting COVID-19.
According to Dr. Paul McKinney, a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee of immunization practices, 40 to 45% of breakthrough cases are in immunocompromised people.
The CDC approved and recommended that people who are immunocompromised get a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if they received the Moderna or Pfizer shot.
“The conditions that are considered to be immunocomprising are felt to be those that are roughly equivalent to an organ transplant,” said McKinney.
This also includes people going through chemotherapy and people who have been immunocompromised since birth.
Louisville’s COVID-19 dashboard provides updates on cases and vaccination numbers. Resources about testing and vaccinations can be found on the Louisville COVID-19 Resource Center page.