Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa is seeing more kids hospitalized with COVID-19. Doctors said they saw 37 pediatric patients in the ICU in December. Now, in mid-January, that number is 60.
"So, [we're] on pace to essentially be a four-fold increase in admissions should this pace continue through the month of January," said Dr. Cliff Robertson. He added that 75% of those 60 admissions are kids less than a year old.
This comes as outpatient facilities like the Warren Clinic are seeing a rise in kids testing positive for COVID. "In my office last week, we had a day that our positivity rate was 85% and we had another day that it was 92%," said Dr. John Lukeman, a pediatrician. During a weekly press conference via Zoom, Doctor Lukeman said the drastic increase is worrisome. "We're seeing our patients under four years old have croup-like symptoms where they're requiring either steroids or breathing treatments to help them breathe."
He and other doctors who attended the virtual press conference said the Omicron variant is targeting more of the upper airway than the lower. "With kids under four, that airway is as small as it is, when they have something targeting that area, they get more swelling and have difficulty breathing."
For kids under 5 who can't get vaccinated, doctors say to listen for a deep, bark-like cough, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in skin color. "Like appearing pale or kind of dusky (dark) around the lips. Those are the times that they need to seek emergency care," added Dr. Roopa Thukaram, a doctor in Saint Francis' Pediatric ICU.
Fortunately, Saint Francis said no children have died of the virus.