The hospital is currently treating seven Covid-19 patients, but Dunbar said they’ve had anywhere from eight to 12 patients per day. The hospital is up to about six admissions per day with about 50% of those patients going to the ICU, Dunbar said. The children’s hospital treats children as young as 4 weeks up to 17 years, she said. “Any time a child is sick, it’s hard. You place it in the context of Covid, it’s hard. Restricted visitation its hard, certainly for younger children. Teenagers can understand what’s going on, younger children might not understand,” Dunbar said.
In comparison, only 18 children came to the emergency room with Covid-19 in all of June, Terry said. In July alone, 62 children came into the emergency room and tested positive with Covid-19, with 58 of them coming to the hospital in the past two weeks, Nicole Terry, the communications manager for Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, said Friday.
The cases in July make up nearly half of all of the positive cases the hospital has seen this year, as well as nearly half of all of the positive cases from the first wave of the pandemic from March-August 2020, Terry said. Dunbar said they are seeing more children sick from a respiratory standpoint and an increase in those who are acutely ill from Covid-19. Many children require breathing support of some kind, whether it be extra oxygen or breathing tubes, he added.
Dunbar said he anticipates an increase in cases when the school year begins in just a few weeks. Though the state’s health department recommends masking in schools, Dunbar said each local district has control. At West Baton Rouge Schools, masks are recommended but not required for students when they return to classrooms Aug. 9, according to the district’s website. According to Louisiana’s health department, 90% of the more than 5,000 Covid cases from July 15-21 were people who were not fully vaccinated.
Dunbar attributes the spike in cases to the Delta variant, which he said is prevalent in the Baton Rouge community, as well as low vaccination numbers statewide. “There’s still unknown and fear in Covid, in particular what that might mean for a child in the short and long term.”
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- Baton Rouge Children’s Hospital is nearly full, bracing for Covid’s surge in cases ahead of the school year.
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