Hysmith, medical director of infection prevention at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, said the influx was alarming.
“We’ve gone from single-digit numbers with not really sick kids to 28 kids in a matter of weeks, and some of them are pretty sick,” he said.
In Shelby County, which includes Memphis, 37 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, compared to Tennessee’s full 40 percent vaccination coverage.
An increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, a disease that primarily affects children and has symptoms similar to those of Covid, has also made matters worse, Hysmith said.
“We are now at about 95-97 percent occupancy, which is normal where we are in the dead of winter,” he said. “So that’s worrying because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming weeks.”
The HHS data shows that population-adjusted pediatric hospitalizations are highest in Alabama, Florida, Delaware, Louisiana, and Oklahoma; in all but Delaware, full vaccination rates are below the national rate.
Other data shows an accelerating trend, including a study released this month by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which found that Covid cases among children rose to more than 93,800 in the first week of August, from a low of about 8,400 in June. Reuters reported that the US reached a record 1,900 children hospitalized on Saturday.
Hospital admissions are on the rise as some children return to the classroom in a bitter back-to-school kick-off as politicians, parents and school officials fight over mask mandates.
In Texas, which leads the country with an average of 219 children hospitalized a day for Covid, Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, issued an executive order last month banning vaccination and mask mandates. Several school districts defied the order with mask mandates, and on Sunday the state Supreme Court temporarily blocked such mandates in Dallas and Bexar counties. (Abbott tested positive for Covid on Tuesday.)
Texas, with 45 percent of the state fully vaccinated, has an average of 15,000 Covid cases per day, at the top of the state’s Covid rates when adjusted for the population.