Valley Children's Hospital seeing increase in COVID-19 patients

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A surge of COVID 19 cases in children has health experts stressing the importance of vaccinations for everyone eligible to get them.

Valley Children's is reporting a steady rise in coronavirus cases, as their positivity rate jumped from 1.2% in June to almost 4% in July.

"I'm not someone who likes to propagate fear, but I think we have to be cautious and concerned," says Valley Children's Hospital Infectious Disease Medical Director, Dr. Nael Mhaissen.

With the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and the fast-approaching return to school, Valley pediatricians are calling on the community to protect our youngest residents by getting vaccinated and wearing masks indoors.

According to the CDPH, cases of COVID in patients under the age of 18 have surpassed 518,000 in California, significantly higher than cases in the elderly.

Dr. Mhaissen says, "That's one of the new changes with this recent spike. It's affecting the younger population more so than the other spikes."

A population especially vulnerable - as those under the age of 12 aren't eligible for the vaccine.

"That's where our responsibility in the community as parents, as caregivers to get vaccinated to try to increase that level of herd immunity," says Dr. Mhaissen.

Valley Children's Hospital data shows since March of 2020, they've admitted 208 children for a COVID 19 diagnosis.

Cases range from asymptomatic patients coming in for other health reasons to patients who require oxygen.

Valley Children's saw 81 COVID-19-related emergency department visits for the month of July alone -- more than four times what they saw in May.

"The fact that it's coinciding with the return to school and the fact that it's affecting younger populations, it's these two factors together as a pediatrician makes me worried," says Dr. Mhaissen.

At the onset of the pandemic, Valley Children's offered assistance to overwhelmed hospitals, taking young adults even patients in their 20s and 30s.

Now, Dr. Mhaissen says, "We are nearing that stage where we get to capacity and we may need to ask of adult hospitals. I don't think we're at that stage yet, but that's one of the fears that I have as I see the number of pediatric cases going higher and higher."

Valley Children's offers walk-in vaccine clinics. For information on those, you can find them on the state's my-turn website.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.