Mississippi’s only children’s hospital continues to see rise in COVID-19 pediatric patients

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) — Rising cases of COVID-19 in children continue to highlight the Children’s of Mississippi Hospital.

The hospital had hospitalized a record 30 children on Friday for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

dr. Mary Taylor, the chair of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said the way the virus currently affects children is strikingly different from the early stages of the pandemic.

“During that first wave, most of the kids weren’t very sick,” said Dr. Taylor. “We saw an average of five to seven patients in the hospital at one point.”

This is no longer the case with the Delta variant.

Even children who are otherwise healthy, like 16-year-old Keelyn Green, pictured below, are hospitalized.

UMMC said Green and his family had not been vaccinated. A family member who didn’t know they’d been around someone with the virus exposed Green, and his symptoms quickly became life-threatening.

“It’s a very traumatic experience to see your child on a ventilator, on a ventilator, and not breathing on their own,” said Dr. Taylor. “They have to be sedated. Often they have to be paralyzed, which means they have to be given drugs that stop them from moving so we can breathe more effectively for them.”

She said the average stay of a child in the ICU can range from a week to more than a month. She also said that parents should be on the lookout for breathing difficulties to determine if their child needs medical attention.

“If they’re breathing faster than usual, or sure, if they’re working or pulling in and working to breathe, then they should seek immediate attention and go to the emergency department to be evaluated,” said Dr. Taylor.

The best preventive measures, she said, are the ones that have always been encouraged.

“It’s best to wear masks, maintain social distancing, do hand hygiene, all the things we know work,” she said.

Since children under 12 are not eligible for the vaccine, said Dr. Taylor says adult vaccinations reduce the chances of children contracting COVID-19.

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