OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – OU Children’s Hospital doctors had a zoom news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss COVID-19 and its effects on children and their hospital amid the Omicron surge.
Oklahoma has about 1,700 people hospitalized due to COVID right now. Of those, 69 of them are children. That’s an all-time high and a huge concern for local doctors as the full impact of COVID-19 is still not known. Doctors with OU Children’s Hospital say they are experiencing the same issues staffing-wise as other places, and with the Omicron surge, they’re seeing more patients on average with a slew of different COVID-19 symptoms and issues.
“We are at an all-time high for pediatric admissions for COVID-19,” said Dr. Donna Tyungu, Medical Director of Infection, Prevention and Control at OU Children’s Hospital.
Over 9.5 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S.; about one million of those have come in the last week alone.
“Some people have suggested that we should all just get Omicron and get it over with, and I would push back on that,” Tyungu said. “Especially with regards to our children, because there are so many things to learn about this variant.”
Omicron’s long-term effects are obviously not known. This is especially when it comes to Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or MIS-C. It has become a post COVID-19 complication and something they’re seeing a little more of in children as cases have risen.
“Although COVID may be seen as a mild disease, there are some severe complications that can happen from it,” said Stephanie DeLeon, M.D., Inpatient Medical Director at OU Children’s Hospital.
DeLeon said they are seeing a lot of patients that are able to stay home or see family doctors with normal and minor symptoms. However, they said they’re seeing a lot more with COVID pneumonia, bronchitis and dehydration in younger patients. Some have even had inflammation in their brain, which has caused issues with seizures and more.
“We’re also seeing strokes because we know that COVID makes people of all ages more likely to clot,” DeLeon said.
Not to mention more patients overall. Over the last three weeks the hospital’s bed surge averaged 12 patients. On Wednesday, that number is at 20. Their ICU averaged five patients. Now, that number is at 8. More patients also continue to test positive. Late last year, the typical positivity rate was about one-to-one and a half-percent when testing their patients before an operation. Now, that number is at 13 percent. With a lack of staffing, that is hitting other hospitals as well, the problems continue.
“That has significantly hampered our ability to continue to function as a normal operating room,” said Cameron Mantor, M.D., the acting Chief Medical Officer at OU Children’s Hospital.
COVID-19 has been put in the top eight causes of death for children ages five to 11. The vaccine is also 91 percent effective in children that are that same age. Teenagers age 12 to 17 that have been vaccinated had a sevenfold less risk of becoming infected and an 11 fold less risk of going to the hospital.