Ohio children's hospitals raise alarm over spike in kids with COVID-19

Half a dozen children's hospitals in Ohio, including their CEOs and the Ohio Children's Hospitals Association, are raising the alarm over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in children, including some so severe that they require breathing assistance. Details about the issue were published in a recent letter signed by the children's hospitals' CEOs.

The letter was published [PDF] recently by the Ohio Children's Hospital Association and it was signed by the CEOs of the following hospitals: Akron Children's Hospital, Dayton Children's, ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children's Hospital, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, Nationwide Children's, and Cincinnati Children's.

According to the letter, these hospitals have seen a spike in the number of kids with COVID-19, particularly the highly contagious Delta variant. More kids are showing up in the hospitals presenting COVID-19 symptoms, and more of these pediatric COVID-19 cases are involving the ICU "than ever before."

Beyond that, the hospitals also warned that they're seeing other lung diseases like RSV at levels that aren't typically experienced until their peak season during winter. All of these issues have collided in a way that is straining children's hospitals, with the letter noting, "This is reality for us today. And it's threatening the capacity of our pediatric safety net in ways we have never experienced before."

The state currently has the second largest number of pediatric COVID-19 cases in the US, according to ABC News, which recently spoke with children's hospital workers in Ohio. Dayton Children's Hospital has reported a record number of COVID-19 cases involving children, with one nurse calling the uptick "astronomical."

The warning comes amid a wider issue found in hospitals across many states: high or max capacity driven largely by unvaccinated people who contracted COVID-19 and developed severe infections. Though older adults are the most vulnerable age groups for the virus, the Delta variant has fueled an increase in cases — and deaths — among the nation's youngest. The best way to help protect these children is to get vaccinated.