JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The number of new hospital admissions of adults with COVID-19 in Florida continues on a general downward trend, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. The data shows the number of total adult patients with COVID-19 in the state has also been dropping over the past week or so.
But the number of new pediatric admissions and total pediatric COVID-19 patients in Florida each hit record highs on Tuesday. According to data from HHS, the number of new pediatric admissions in the state — 72 — as of Tuesday was only one higher than the previous high. On Tuesday, according to the data, total pediatric patients — 230 — was up six from Monday’s number, which had been a record.
In Jacksonville, there were 17 children hospitalized with COVID-19 at Wolfson Children’s Hospital as of Tuesday — four of whom were in the intensive care unit.
Dr. Asma Salahuddin, a pediatric hospitalist at Wolfson, talked with News4Jax about what is happening inside with her patients.
“When the child is sick, multiple family members are sick, so there are times when I am FaceTiming with a parent who is also in a hospital bed while their child is in the hospital,” Salahuddin said. “We’ve had a few deaths, but not as many as the adult side. But just the overall going through that and just watching a child telling you they can’t breathe, they can’t take a deep breath and going through that itself, if it can be preventable, that’s kind of what we urge for.”
Salahuddin said she’s seeing that teenagers who could have been vaccinated appear to be suffering the most.
“I would say, compared to last year, for sure, we are definitely seeing increased trend and increased illness. The teenage patients who are coming in with the acute COVID pneumonia, they seem to be the sickest of all of them compared to all the other illnesses we are seeing with COVID,” Salahuddin said. “However, we are seeing all ages being admitted.”
It’s not just in Jacksonville where children are getting infected with COVID-19. In Clay County, the health department said last week that children made up 20% of the new cases there — which is similar to the statewide trend.
When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Jacksonville on Monday, News4Jax asked him about children and COVID-19.
“As a kid, yes, it’s mild, thankfully. They get over it. They handle it very well, and, actually, if you look statistically, elementary school students — barring any major health problem — but a typical elementary student is at less risk unvaccinated than the average vaccinated adult, even though the vaccination is helping the adult,” DeSantis said. “That’s is how low risk it has been.”
Doctors at Wolfson say COVID-19 vaccines are the most important tool, but being responsible with masking and social distancing is key to beating the coronavirus and protecting children.