Arkansas children’s hospitals see record number of Covid patients

Arkansas children’s hospitals see record number of Covid patients
‘We’re seeing a real surge with the Delta variant that we did not see previously’

Children’s hospitals in Arkansas are seeing a record increase in the number of young people being admitted for coronavirus as the state struggles with a surge due to the Delta variant.

Two hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale told CNN that 24 paediatric patients were hospitalised with Covid-19 on Wednesday.

The numbers mark the highest increase over any point in the pandemic at 50 per cent, setting a record for the number of children in hospital with the virus.

The broadcaster said that seven of the total are in intensive care while two are on ventilators. More than half of the children hospitalised were eligible for vaccination, the hospital said.

“We’re seeing a real surge with the Delta variant that we did not see previously,” Dr Rick Barr, chief clinical officer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, told the broadcaster. “This is the worst that we’ve seen it for kids, absolutely.”

Children are significantly less likely to become severely ill from coronavirus infection and are likely to experience mild symptoms. However, they are not immune to the virus or guaranteed not to experience severe side effects.

Dr Barr told CNN that parents are both shocked at the level of treatment some of their children are requiring and also regretful over not having them vaccinated.

“They’re shocked because the messaging out there has been that kids don’t really get sick with Covid, and we didn’t see serious illnesses, except for rare instances, with the previous variants,” he said.

“So parents are both shocked and now they understand the value of vaccines. In fact, they’re encouraging other parents to get their kids vaccinated.”

All children aged 12 or older are now eligible to receive a free coronavirus vaccine in Arkansas.

“We find that often they are not vaccinated,” Mr Barr said. “We’ve seen multiple instances where they now wish they’d gotten their child vaccinated.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccination should get one.

“Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” the CDC writes on its website. It says the shots have undergone the “most intensive safety monitoring in US history, which includes studies in adolescents.”

The state has seen a worrying rise in cases in recent weeks and has one of the lowest vaccination rates across the US. USA Facts reports that only 35 per cent of the state’s population has been vaccinated.

Arkansas reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday with its hospitalisations surpassing 1,000.

Director of the CDC Dr Rochelle Walensky has previously described the new outbreak of infections as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

She said: “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”

Over 49 per cent or 163 million people across the US have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus since the mass vaccination programme was rolled out in December.

The state Department of Public Health has said that 99 per cent of cases between 1 January and last week were among those who have not received a vaccination.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press