LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Just in time for the return to school hospitals are reporting an increase in children being seen for COVID-19.
According to a weekly report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association (CHA), the number of children who are getting COVID has steadily increased in recent weeks. The hospitalization rate across the country is now the same as it was at the highest point of the pandemic.
Children now make up 15% of cases across the U.S. Almost 94,000 cases were added just this past week.
"If you add in now children going back to school, I think we're going to see higher numbers," said Dr. Katrina Hood, Pediatrician with Pediatric & Adolescent Associates.
Her office doesn't hospitalize, but she says their rate of positive COVID tests has increased.
"Then when you just put groups of children, groups of adults in a room, all together, namely a classroom, you're gonna have higher exposure so as we see with people going to parties and that kind of things that are indoors, we know we'll see higher numbers," said Hood.
Dr. Jai Gilliam says Baptist Health is also seeing an increase in children needed treatment for COVID-19.
"It is concerning. I'm kind of disheartened just a little bit, because here we have a vaccine that's available, and getting the vaccine is actually going to be a top priority and decreasing the transmission to kids, so the more adults that get it, the more that we are able to prevent the spread to our kids," said Gilliam.
For parent Sam Tolliver, sending his kid Rory back to school this week is giving him mixed emotions.
"It's a difficult thing, he's excited. We're excited for him to get back he wants that routine but there is that concern," said Tolliver.
The CDC says severe illness due to COVID-19 is still uncommon for children, but the numbers are still alarming for Doctors Hood and Gilliam. They believe the Delta variant in combination with children not able to be vaccinated has played a role.
"It's highly contagious, equivalent to the common cold, which just means that if it's in the room, if not anybody that hasn't been vaccinated, even those even those that have you're just much more likely to catch it," said Hood.
Less than 30% of Americans ages 12 to 15, and only 41% of Americans 16 to 17 are fully vaccinated.
However, all K-12 schools will now be required to mandate masks for students, staff, teachers, and visitors.