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Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU sees more COVID-19 cases

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 7:02 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 8:10 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As cases involving the Omicron variant continue to rise around the country, a hospital in Richmond is also starting to see more patients testing positive for the virus.

Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, a general pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond, reports a rise in their positivity rate.

“We’re seeing 50 percent of our kids presenting for testing because they have a cold-like symptom, are positive for COVID-19,” she said. “Our positivity rate is through the roof.”

At this time, Dr. Kimbrough said 10 patients, under the age of 18, are hospitalized with COVID-19 at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond. Two of those patients are in the ICU.

“We were down to zero at one point when our rates were really low,” Dr. Kimbrough said. “That hospitalization rate isn’t going up, but just based on the sheer numbers, we’ve had so many children coming in with COVID-19.”

Dr. Kimbrough said they’re also seeing kids in need of ICU care with either COVID-related pneumonia or MIS-C.

“We are seeing that the majority of these children are unvaccinated, whether they’re eligible to get vaccinated by age or under the age of five and ineligible to do so.”

Nationally, the CDC is reporting a rising number of hospitalizations in children under 5 with COVID-19 as cases of the Omicron variant continue to spread. According to the CDC, the hospitalization rate in these youngest kids has surged to more than 4 in 100,000 children, up from 2.5 per 100,000.

Julian Walker, vice president of communications for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, said pediatric hospitalizations for COVID, said data continues to show that pediatric hospitalizations for COVID, as a share of total COVID hospitalizations, remain among the lowest among all age demographic groups in Virginia.

According to the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID dashboard, there have been 564 children under the age of 10 hospitalized for COVID-19 in Virginia since the start of the pandemic. In all the state’s health districts, there’s been a total of 44,056 hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic, with a record peak reaching a record of more than 3,300 people in the hospital on Friday.

This comes as cases involving the Omicron variant continue to spread across the country, a variant also presenting a croup-like cough in children under the age of two.

“It’s a high-pitched barky cough,” Dr. Kimbrough said. “It literally sounds like a seal.”

A cough Dr. Kimbrough said could lead to some breathing troubles.

“If they’re noticing their child is breathing fast or working harder and for us that looks like ribs sucking in, nostrils flaring,” Dr. Kimbrough said. “All of that is signaling the child is having a hard time, and we’re going to need them to get a higher level of care.”

As far as protecting your child from COVID-19, Dr. Kimbrough strongly encourages those five and older to get their COVID-19 shots and advises on a potential mask upgrade for your children.

“The best mask is the one your child will leave on and leave alone, so take that first,” she said. “But, if your child is old enough and able to keep on a KN-95, certainly now upgrading your child’s mask from a cloth mask is the time to do it.”

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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