KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Doctors at a subway hospital warn of the potential for “the perfect storm”.
Public health leaders are seeing a small rise in pediatric COVID-19 infections, which doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital say may be related to Thanksgiving gatherings.
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On Friday, a pediatrician told reporters that nearly all current COVID-19 patients at that hospital are unvaccinated.
The re-emergence of an old viral enemy – the flu – is raising concern.
Missouri public health officials report that the virus is making its way across the Midwest and it’s as close as St. Louis noted.
The flu season barely existed in 2020 as the use of masks and social distancing helped contain the spread of the virus. These precautions will no longer be taken here at the end of 2021. That gives viral infection chances to spread.
“We’ve actually had an increase in COVID cases over Thanksgiving week,” said Dr. Angela Myers, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Myers said low COVID vaccination rates among teens, as well as concerns about the flu, are causing infectious disease experts to sound early alarms. Myers, as well as her colleagues at the hospital, said public mask mandates and school mask requirements are a cause for concern. Many metro school districts have already seen the mask rules expire.
“We want children to go to school every day. We didn’t have that luxury last year. This year we have the luxury of being able to keep children in school and the best way is to keep all children masked. we don’t have a critical portion of them — even the oldest kids — getting vaccinated right now,” Myers said.
“If the numbers increased, and we had another increase in patients requiring hospital beds, we could be where we were in August, where we’re really scrambling and things are real,” Dr. Jennifer Watts, an emergency management specialist at Children’s Mercy Hospital, said.
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Upcoming holiday gatherings also worry doctors, as many families will have unvaccinated members and pandemic guidelines are often ignored at family gatherings.
“Even within my own family, we’ve had to make some tough decisions. It’s hard and I understand how people struggle with this,” Meyers told reporters. “We have to keep the long game in mind, and I know that’s difficult.”
The sure arrival of the ommicron variant also worries doctors. Pediatricians are quick to point out that co-infections are possible, and having both “flu” and coronavirus is a realistic concern. Vaccines are a recommended protection against both infections.
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