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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – According to the Oklahoma State Health Department, more than 52 Oklahoma children have been hospitalized in the last week.  

In the first week of August, 25 Oklahomans under the age of 18 were hospitalized.  

“It’s very concerning,” said Dr. Cameron Mantor, Acting Chief Medical Officer for OU Health Hospitals. 

Mantor says Oklahoma Children’s Hospital is feeling the strain of the pandemic as doctors and nurses treat our state’s youngest patients.

“So yesterday was a high for us,” Mantor said. “We had 20 patients in the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital that were there because of COVID. Today, that’s down to 15.”

Mantor stresses the virus is now taking a harder toll on children.

“Not only are we seeing more kids with COVID, some of them being sicker than we saw six, eight months ago. We’re having more difficulties because of the significant number of kids being admitted with other respiratory viruses and that limits our bed space,” said Mantor.

He says “bed space” is a two-part problem involving both physical bed space and staffing.

Hospitals across the state are experiencing nurse shortages and OU Children’s, our state’s level-one trauma center for children, is no exception.

“Our biggest concern is that we are the large free-standing children’s hospital for the state,” said Mantor. “Being able to get the kids in, get them cared for, taken care of and having a place for them when we’re needed is what we’re here for and it’s concerning when we have to divert kids away and we can’t do that.”

As the school year gets underway, the concern is only growing.

“The inability of us to be able to vaccinate those younger than 12 still and the Legislature’s decision to tie the hands of the school systems is challenging,” he said.

Mantor encourages everyone to get the vaccine when eligible and for parents to encourage their children to wear masks in school.