Hospitals plea for help in letter as state sees highest weekly juvenile COVID-19 case count

Six Children’s Hospitals across Ohio are pleading for help from Ohioans as rising medical issues are “threatening the capacity of our pediatric safety net in ways we have never experienced before.”

The six hospitals, including Dayton Children’s, said they are seeing more kids coming into hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms and more kids are being hospitalized because of COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant. They also reported more kids in the ICU with COVID-19 than ever before.

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According to Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 data, the week of August 22 had the most COVID-19 cases for people under the age of 18 during the entire pandemic with 7,124 cases being reported. That accounted for about 24 percent of the state’s total COVID-19 cases, according to the state.

During the fall/winter peak of COVID-19 the most cases reported in a week for people under 18 was 5,935 cases the week of Nov. 29.

The data from the state doesn’t specify how many of those cases were symptomatic. However, 1,378 juveniles have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 8 juveniles from the state have died with the virus since March 2020, according to ODH.

Paired with respiratory illnesses like RSV, which are at levels not usually seen until the peak season in winter, illnesses are threatening pediatric hospital capacity, according to the hospitals.

“This is a reality for us,” an open letter signed by the presidents and CEOs of six Children’s Hospitals in the state.

The hospitals also said mental and behavioral health issues and workforces being strained are playing an impact.

“We are asking and urging all Ohioans to do what you can to stand with us to help protect our state’s children by using the tools that we have,” the letter read.

Those tools, according to the hospitals, include:

  • If eligible, get vaccinated
  • Wear a mask during school and while attending large gatherings
  • Adhering to safe practices of physical distancing and handwashing.