‘Our pediatric cases have done well’: Ballad Health reports drop in COVID hospitalizations, cases among kids | WJHL

JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee (WJHL) — While the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 remains high, pediatric patients infected with the virus have steadily declined over the past week at the largest hospital system in the Tri-Cities region.

Concerns about re-entering the classroom seemed justified at the start of the school year, when a higher proportion of school-aged children contracted COVID-19 than ever before during the pandemic. Not only were children infected, but also hospitalized.

After nearly tripling the total number of cases in August, the percentage among schoolchildren has fallen in recent weeks.

As of Aug. 2, childhood cases were less than 14% of the total COVID-19 cases in Northeast Tennessee. That had risen to about 35% by August 16 and remained in that range through the end of the month.

17 new COVID-19 deaths reported in NE Tennessee on Wednesday

In September, the ratio has steadily declined to 19% from Tuesday.

The weekly children’s cases exploded in huge numbers. More than ninefold from 130 to 1,200 in just three weeks to August 23. The number has now fallen to 821, more than 550 since their August 30 peak of 1,379.

Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift reported Wednesday at a Ballad Health COVID-19 press briefing that in recent weeks, virus testing data from the hospital system showed that 20 to 40% of cases were pediatric. Now she said that number has dropped to about 15%.

Ballad Health reported Wednesday that Niswonger Children’s Hospital is treating one pediatric patient. That’s the lowest number in more than a month.

“One, I think, positive data point is that we have only one pediatric patient at Niswonger Children’s Hospital this time, down from eight earlier this week. And thankfully it’s one of the lowest numbers we’ve had in recent weeks, so very good news there,” said Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton.

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One of those released was a local teenager, Conner Begley, who spent more than 40 days at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

“It was obviously very emotional, not just for the members of the Children’s Hospital, but for everyone in the Ballad community. Obviously we’ve been praying and hoping for the best for Connor and his family for a while. It was truly a miracle and we are so, so grateful that Connor was allowed to leave the hospital,” Deaton said at a Ballad briefing on Wednesday.

“This young man was very ill for a long time and for that we are so grateful that he was allowed to leave the hospital this week.”

PREVIOUS: Ballad Health sees increase in pediatric COVID-19, MIS-C cases

While pediatric COVID cases may be sliding down, Ballad officials warned parents to watch for signs of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

“We’ve reported two MIS-Cs in the past few weeks and we expect to see more admissions with MIS-C,” Swift said.

She urged parents, as COVID cases increase in the region, that parents monitor their children not only for symptoms of the novel coronavirus, but also MIS-C.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that MIS-C causes inflammation in several areas of the body.

School COVID cases are declining in Washington County, Johnson City

Symptoms include:

Fever Abdominal pain Bloodshot eyes Pressure/chest pain Diarrhea Feeling extra tired Headache Low blood pressure Neck pain Rash Vomiting

“It’s really important for parents to be aware of MIS-C, to know what symptoms to look out for and to seek help,” Swift added.

Ballad Health: Regional COVID-19 spikes ‘driven by people who haven’t been vaccinated’, and deaths will follow

She urged anyone who is not vaccinated to get the shot in hopes of ending this pandemic.

“We are really not out of the woods yet. Our team members are exhausted, they are witnessing terrible illness and death. Every day. And it’s hard because it’s preventable,” Swift said.

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