The number of coronavirus cases in children has risen sharply in the past month — from about 38,000 in late July to more than 180,000 last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In Mississippi alone, three weeks into the school year, the toll of COVID-19 on children is enormous. Nearly 12,000 students have tested positive for the virus, with nearly 29,000 now quarantined.
Sadder is still M’Kayla Robinson’s COVID story. The 13-year-old eighth-grader began feeling sick on Wednesday, August 11, and died of COVID that Saturday.
“That was my only daughter. My only child,” said Justin Waddell, M’Kayla’s father.
“We’ve never seen anything like this happen in three days,” Waddell said. “It was a shock to everyone. The whole family.”
In Mississippi, barely one in three people is fully vaccinated, the second lowest rate in the country.
Governor Tate Reeves also opposes mask mandates, even in schools, despite a COVID surge that has alarmed many parents and doctors.
“I do not intend to issue a vaccine mandate. Period,” Reeves said at a news conference.
Pediatrician Dr. Anita Henderson, who works at the Hattiesburg clinic, described the impact of COVID on children as a “freight train.”
“And what I mean by a freight train is that our clinics are being overrun,” Henderson told CBS News’ Mark Strassmann.
“And what would you say to people who say, ‘They’re young, you’ll be fine?'” Strassmann asked.
“We see in our pediatric population children who can no longer play the flute, children who can no longer participate in sports,” Henderson said. “And that’s heartbreaking.”
Worryingly for Henderson: More than half of this state’s 82 counties don’t have a pediatrician.
Little Shelby Davion got lucky. She spent nearly two weeks in the ICU after developing childhood Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), a rare but dangerous condition that can occur after COVID-19 infection.
“The staff told us she is a miracle,” said her father, Jamey Davion. “That she was so sick and that she was one of the worst they’d seen.”
The governor has called on about 1,000 additional health workers to bolster 61 hospitals with staff shortages in the state.
Saint Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson has been hit by COVID for the past five weeks. All 64 ICU beds are full, more than half with COVID patients. A tent is used to walk over, screen and test COVID patients.
Twenty paramedics could show up as reinforcements at Saint Dominic’s as soon as Wednesday, but like hospitals across the state, it could use a break from the viral siege.