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Children’s Hospital says more young children are being hospitalized with COVID-19

As the delta variant picks up momentum, health officials call on schools to mandate masks as students get back to class.
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 10:19 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Children’s Hospital is urging school districts to make masks a must as students head back to class next month.

“There is an increase in hospitalizations among younger children,” said Dr. Russell McCulloh, division chief for pediatric hospital medicine at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and UNMC. “And certainly we’re not seeing hospitalizations for acute COVID for those who have been vaccinated.”

The virus is finding its way to people who are not vaccinated, and a lot of them are children.

“A lot of our more susceptible adults are now vaccinated and so we’ve just shifted the population who is now susceptible to being predominately younger.

Billy Sobczyk said he feels anxious about sending his children back to school. Three of them are too young to get the shot.

“These are our kids, and they aren’t vaccinated, and the disease is real, and it is contagious,” he said.

In the past several weeks, COVID-19 has been landing more young children in the hospital here.

“We’re on this increased community transmission curve right now, so it really benefits schools to think long and hard about what those practices should be coming into the school year — and thinking about using those that proved to work,” Dr. McCulloh said.

Omaha Public Schools and Elkhorn Public Schools plan on sticking with their decision to make masks optional heading back to class, while Bellevue Public Schools and Westside Community Schools are still working on plans.

The Sobczyks are in the Millard Public School District, which — according to their latest communication — will start the year off with masks as an option.

“I hope other parents are all on the same page because I’d like them to have the same experience as they did last year when everyone was fully in it,” Sobczyk said.

Meanwhile, at Children’s Hospital, they’re hoping schools lay down the same precautionary measures that helped get them through last winter.

“We had extremely low levels of typical respiratory viruses and COVID and that’s because schools were engaging in pretty aggressive masking, distancing, and other infection control practices like handwashing,” Dr. McCulloh said. “And they worked really well.”

The CDC’s also recommending schools make masks a must for the unvaccinated, recently putting out guidelines including all students and staff who are not fully vaccinated wear masks indoors.

For privacy reasons, Children’s Hospital officials said they choose not to release exact numbers of hospitalizations.

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