Health departments across the Tri-State are warning that the number of COVID-19 cases in children is rising. Officials at the region’s largest pediatric hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said Wednesday the number of young patients admitted with complications due to the virus is also increasing weekly.
The spread is spilling into the broader healthcare community, doctors said. Outside a Hyde Park urgent care clinic, patients formed a line out the door Wednesday morning.
“We’re all waiting long, side by side, not feeling good,” said Seante Bullock, who was at the clinic.
Inside the clinic, all chairs appeared taken.
“They ran out of chairs,” Bullock said. “Everybody's waiting in the same air-space or outside. There's someone coughing almost next to me, and I’m just like freaking out.”
One of Cincinnati’s leading pediatric doctors, Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, is chief of staff at Children’s Hospital. She joined Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman Wednesday to warn of this impact. Manning-Courtney traces it back to what she said is the rising number of children contracting the virus along with other respiratory illnesses spreading from children, families and neighbors.
“Our entire pediatric healthcare system is under stress and strain right now,” she said. “By that I mean: Our emergency rooms, our urgent cares, our primary care practices, our community physicians are seeing some of the highest volumes of patients that they have ever seen.”
Dr. Amy Mechley works at Integrated Family Care of Cincinnati in East Walnut Hills. She said her office is seeing the same.
“COVID cases now are getting younger and maybe a little bit more personal,” she said. “We’re seeing more people coming in asking questions. Our vaccine appointments are now getting full, which is great.”
Public health data show Hamilton County has had the most pediatric cases in the Tri-State since the pandemic began and has the third-highest number in the state of Ohio.
Manning-Courtney said there have been 500 children who tested positive in the last seven days who were not hospitalized. The week before that, 300 children tested positive. They also were not ill enough to be admitted to the hospital.
The number of patients in Children's Hospital due to COVID-19 has not been released because of child-parent privacy, she said.
Other counties across the viewing area said they are experiencing similar trends.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department breaks the number of active cases down by age. However, a spokesperson for St. Elizabeth Healthcare said no patients under 18 were admitted due to COVID-19 in that system's hospitals as of Wednesday evening.
The Butler County General Health District's promotion director, Erin Smiley, said doctors there have seen an increase in the number of childhood hospitalizations related to other respiratory infections — specifically, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections.
Meanwhile, back in the Hyde Park clinic line, patients said they can feel the strain. Some question close quarters and level of patient care.
“It gives me anxiety a little bit,” said Bullock. “Most of these people, including myself, are getting COVID testing. So, if everybody has some type of symptoms, and we're all sitting around so close to each other, it kind of doesn’t make sense.”