Fort Worth, Texas – The Omicron variant continues to spread across the North Texas area infecting people with the virus with unseen rates so far. The increasing number of new cases understandably results with increasing number of hospitalizations.
What differs Omicron from all the previous variants of the virus is the fact that evades vaccine and natural immunities, but also infects children more which was not the case before.
Across the North Texas 19-county region, nearly 4,000 people are in hospitals. That’s an increase of 111 from Tuesday and represents more than a quarter of all hospital patients.
According to data provided by the hospitals, 151 of these hospitalized people are children.
Almost half of them, 70, are treated at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and the number is absolute record since the start of the pandemic. For comparison, the number of hospitalized children last week was 51, while back in December the number was around 30.
Cook Children’s Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Petersen says roughly half of the patients testing positive for COVID initially came to the hospital about a separate illness.
“In wintertime, it is very typical for us to see children who are ill with viral illnesses,” she said.
Since the symptoms are very similar with other viruses especially in the winter, pediatrician Bianka Soria-Olmos that is very important children to be tested in the early phase to determine if they are positive on Covid-19 so they can be properly treated.
“With omicron, we are seeing more and more kids present with this upper airway inflammation that basically causes them to have difficulties with inflammation with the upper airway,” she said.
Compared to last year, the number of cases currently is about six time the numbers we had last January and nearly twice compared to September 2021.
The record number of hospitalizations in the hospital result to operate at full capacity for a few weeks now and they sometimes even have to turn away non-urgent transfer patients because they can’t handle the demand for treatment.
“We have started with one COVID floor,” Petersen said. “We have spilled over into a second unit before Christmas, and now we are beyond that.”
The situation in the other area hospitals is very similar. Every single hospital in North Texas reports increased number of hospitalized children. For example, Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation shows pediatric cases have doubled from week to week. And in Pre-K aged children who are too young to get vaccinated, the cases have tripled.
One positive fact in this ‘Omicron wave chaos’ is that hospitalization period is way lower and patients are very often discharged from hospitals before they end up in the ICU. “We’re pleased that it’s a lesser length of stay,” Petersen said. “But if you come to the hospital and you’re admitted, it’s because there some necessity for supporting a ventilatory or respiratory or antibiotic or fluid administration so it’s not to be taken lightly.”
In an effort to slow down the spread of the virus in children in a period when hospitals are overwhelmed with both children and adult Covid-19 patients, doctors advise parents to test their children as soon as they show any flu-like symptoms.