Mississippi’s only children’s hospital continues to see rise in COVID-19 pediatric patients

Avery Mitchell is in the ICU at Children's of Mississippi.
Avery Mitchell is in the ICU at Children's of Mississippi.(Children's of Mississippi)
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Rising COVID-19 cases in kids continue to stress the Children’s of Mississippi Hospital.

The hospital had a record-high 30 kids hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases Friday.

University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Chair of Pediatrics Dr. Mary Taylor said the way the virus is currently impacting children is strikingly different from the pandemic’s early stages.

“During that first wave, most of the children were not very ill,” Dr. Taylor said. “We saw, on average, five to seven patients in the hospital at any given time.”

With the Delta variant, that’s no longer the case.

Even kids who are otherwise healthy like 16-year-old Keelyn Green, pictured below, are getting hospitalized.

UMMC said Green and his family weren’t vaccinated. A family member who didn’t know they had been near someone with the virus exposed Green, and his symptoms quickly became life-threatening.

“It’s a very traumatic experience to see your child on a ventilator, on a breathing machine, not breathing on their own,” Dr. Taylor said. “They have to be sedated. Oftentimes, they have to be paralyzed, meaning given medicine that keeps them from moving so that we can breathe for them more effectively.”

She said a child’s average stay in ICU can vary anywhere from a week to over a month. She also said parents should be on the lookout for breathing difficulties to determine if their kid needs medical attention.

“If they’re breathing faster than normal, or certainly, if they’re working or pulling in and working to breathe, then they need to immediately seek attention and go to the emergency department to be evaluated,” Dr. Taylor said.

The best preventative measures, she said, are those that have been encouraged all along.

“It’s best to wear masks, keep your social distancing, do the hand hygiene, all the things that we know work,” she said.

Since children younger than 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccine, Dr. Taylor said adult vaccinations will reduce the chances of children contracting COVID-19.

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