In some U.S. states, COVID-19 is surging to record highs causing what has been dubbed by the press as the "Delta disaster." Experts say the disturbing uptick in cases is due to easing restrictions, low vaccination rates, and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. The sad news is that while cases are rising, many more children are been sickened by the virus.
According to the Daily Mail, children’s hospitals in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida have reported more under 18-year-olds stricken with COVID-19-related conditions in their care than at any previous point in the pandemic.
Most are suffering from pneumonia or multi-inflammatory syndrome, says the Daily Mail.
Children with COVID-19 used to account for 1% of hospitalized patients at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Now they make up 20%, Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in chief told Good Morning America on Monday.
The physician said that about half the kids hospitalized are under the age of two, and most of the others are between five and 10 years old, too young to be vaccinated, according to ABC News.
"This is not your grandfather’s COVID," he said. "This Delta variant is an entirely new and unexpected challenge.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, says that the Delta variant is "picking off young people like we’ve never seen."
He paints a grim picture of what could happen when schools open.
"You should assume we’re going to see pediatric intensive care units all across the South completely overwhelmed and even a possibility of small tent cities of sick adolescents and kid," he says.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that only 58.7% of Americans over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to their data, says ABC News.
In order to stem the tide of the Delta disaster when schools open, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health says he suggests a five-point strategy:
- Vaccinate everyone who is able to get vaccinated.
- Update the ventilation in schools.
- Test for COVID-19 in schools.
- Mandate masks.
- Avoid super-crowded events like school assemblies.
Hotez added parents need to know that Delta is "something different."
"If your adolescent kid is unvaccinated, you should assume there is a high likelihood that that child is going to get COVID," he said, according to ABC News. "And we haven’t gotten around to the ‘long COVID’ discussion around young people and what that means for their long-term cognitive health."
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