Memorial Health seeing increase in neonatal and pediatric COVID-19 cases
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Since schools have opened and students have returned, they have been impacted by the increase of COVID cases we’re seeing in our communities.
We’ve watched some pause, while others have switched to virtual learning and some moving to a mask requirement for student safety.
The goal is clear, to have students back in school five days a week, but doing that has proved a challenge as the delta variant rapidly spread through our communities. Some local schools have been forced to change course for safety.
“I think when you look at the schools that have had to make that transition all of them have either, did not encourage masking or made it very optional and I think some of the consequences of that. That said every school whether they are masking or not has to have a layered approaches to protection really focusing on how to keep kids distanced making sure that the families are hearing the message that we shouldn’t send our kids to school sick and also making sure that our communities have access to testing that’s quick to give families that information they need to know which is if my child’s been sent home with symptoms is it because of COVID-19 so they can return to school as soon possible,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, Associate Chief Medical Officer.
While more children are becoming symptomatic with COVID-19, they still appear to fair better than adults. As of Wednesday morning Memorial has 127 adult patients, but their Children’s Hospital has seen an increase in pediatric and neonatal cases too with eight right now. Leaders say your best defense is vaccination which is why they are beginning a new walk-in family vaccine clinic on Thursdays, starting this Thursday.
“We’re really just committed to making that available resource so it’s predictable on when it will be and really moving forward as we’re talking about this pandemic at this point.”
Memorial is currently treating 127 adults with COVID and also has eight pediatric and neonatal cases.
“We’re seeing more babies being tested positive after they are born to a mom who has COVID-19 and I don’t have an immediate answer as to why that, I think it is because of how much more virus is in our nose is in our respiratory secretions that when we’re coughing and we’re laboring we’re just putting a lot more virus into the room when the baby is born.”
Dr. Thacker says treatment for these babies is largely supportive care because a lot of the COVID-19 therapies have not been tested on infants. He says thankfully the younger the patient the less likely the severity of the case.
“COVID-19 in general has not proven to be a significant life threatening event for most neonates who are born with it, but again the big challenge there is that some babies are being born prematurely that don’t have to be because of COVID-19 infection in their mother.”
It’s because of this that the CDC and other pregnancy experts recommend the vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding moms something Dr. Thacker agrees with.
“One we have found it to be safe, we’ve also found it to be very effective and we’re recognizing more and more the consequence of pregnant mothers getting COVID-19 on mostly her. There is risk of harm and threat to your life as a pregnant mother if you get COVID-19 and we’re also learning that it leads to premature delivery and can impact that child that’s born.”
Dr. Thacker says as a pediatric doctor, it’s sobering to take care of an infant who’s parent has not survived any illness and that’s something that COVID is doing across the country.
Memorial’s family vaccine clinic will happen at the Children’s Hospital every Thursday from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m.
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