St. Pete hospital reports uptick in kids hospitalized with COVID-19

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that young people are being hospitalized with coronavirus in record numbers. 

One Tampa Bay area hospital says it is already seeing a spike, and that’s before students return from winter break and head back into the classroom.

Doctors are worried about the flu and also COVID-19 since it is the season for respiratory viruses.

During the week of Dec. 22-28, the CDC reports an average of 378 young people were admitted to U.S. hospitals with COVID-19 each day.  That’s a 66% increase from the week before and a pandemic record, according to federal data.

Tampa Bay area doctors are worried about what’s to come since this spike happened before students returned to the classroom.

“We’re concerned,” Dr. Allison Messina says.

Messina treats kids battling COVID-19 at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

She says while it’s unclear if the new strain is more dangerous, omicron is leading to serious respiratory issues in some children.

“We’re headed in an upward direction right now,” Messina says. “We’ve already had to make special plans and modifications to our wards.”

So what’s behind the spike in hospitalizations?

At a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Gov. Ron DeSantis said some in the hospital with COVID-19 are really there for other reasons.

“Looking to see who is being admitted for COVID versus who may be admitted with COVID is going to be important to really chart the severity of what we’re seeing,” DeSantis said Monday.

8 On Your Side asked Dr. Messina if children are being admitted to local hospitals due to COVID or if they’re incidentally testing positive.

“Both,” Messina says. “We have some kids that are being admitted and actually are sick with respiratory symptoms, having trouble breathing, shortness of breath.”

There are also incidental positive cases as the hospital is testing every patient.

Right now, there’s no easily accessible data distinguishing these incidental positive cases.

However, if you’re worried about hospital resources, Messina says the distinction is less relevant.

“Whether they’re there for COVID or not, if they have it at all, we have to be very cautious,” Messina says. “A lot more resources are needed to care for patients with cornovarivus.”

The doctor’s advice is to get your children vaccinated and boosted.

If they’re five years old and up, they qualify to get the vaccine.

As of Monday, children 12 and up qualify to get the Pfizer booster.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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