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Q&A: Talking children and COVID-19 with Cincinnati Children's Hospital

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Posted at 5:11 AM, Sep 01, 2021

CINCINNATI — As children go back to in-person learning, reports have surfaced about the rising number of children with COVID-19. However, an actual number hasn't been seen. WCPO reporter Ally Kraemer discussed this and other questions viewers had with the chief-of-staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Dr. Patty Manning.

PM: We are seeing a very dramatic increase in the number of children testing positive for COVID, both who are admitted to the hospital and who are not admitted to the hospital. While we don't share exact numbers to protect privacy, I can say confidently that those numbers have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in the past several weeks in a dramatic level.

They are not as high as they were back in November and December, when we got really, we had another surge, but they're approaching that.

I can say that in the past week, for children who have not been hospitalized, we had over 500 children test positive in this region. That's a dramatic increase and so we can't impress upon the community enough that this is serious right now and we are concerned and we need your help.

AK: One mother asked, I have an 11-year-old in school and a 7-month-old at home. How do I keep my baby safe, other than masking my other child in school?

PM: I love this question because I actually like these really specific examples of what people are struggling with, and the first answer, first, they do have to mask at school.

Beyond masking, I would tell a parent like this that when your child comes home, having them wash their hands, having them clean other surfaces that they may be touching. Not that you have to go crazy on that, but making sure that they're cleaned off when they get home.

To be ultra safe, you probably would keep some distance between that child and the baby. I know that sounds probably totally unrealistic, but if you want to be maximumly safe, you want to maintain some distance.

AK: For breastfeeding moms who are vaccinated, how long should you continue breastfeeding for the baby to receive the antibodies?

PM: We know that maternal protection from breast milk can last up through a year, and we recommend breastfeeding for a year. The immediate protection from the antibodies is probably great in that first six months, but it can last through a year.

AK: If parents gain one thing from this discussion, what would it be?

PM: I feel like as a children's hospital we ask for help a lot. It's our responsibility to care for the kids in this region. For the sickest children, for the children who aren't so sick, for every child that needs us, and we do everything in our power to make sure we can maintain our capacity to do that.

But right now, we need your help. We need your help to help us do that. We need you to stay safe, to get vaccinated, we need you to wear masks when you're indoors in close contact, we need you to think about the activities that you're going to because we are dealing with a very significant volume of children who need us.