The number of COVID-19 admissions is rising “exponentially” at St. Francis’ children’s hospital, doctors said on Tuesday.
“You’ll see about six and a half times more hospitalizations from early June to late August,” said Dr. Travis Campbell, chairman of the pediatric ward and children’s hospital, during a virtual press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“Now, here in early September, I don’t have the numbers, but I would say those numbers are increasing exponentially in the same consistency as early June to now,” said Campbell, who attributed the first bump in June to the delta variant and the ongoing exponential rise to the return to personal education in the state.
“Our most sensitive age range is 0-4 years, and we see those kids being hospitalized ten times higher with this delta variant compared to the previous COVID infection and last year’s winter wave,” Campbell said.
Campbell said children 12 and older who are fully vaccinated are hospitalized ten times less than their unvaccinated peers. He called on parents to get themselves and all eligible children vaccinated for protection, and encouraged the use of masks.
“Most schools are not mandated. Some private schools are and some charter schools are, but most are not mandated to mask,” Campbell said. “But what that means is that parents can still make an informed decision, see the data for themselves, ask their pediatricians or the doctors they trust will see their kids. … I think they’ll see all the pediatricians at Tulsa.” area and most GPs say, ‘Please finish your kids going into the school year because it’s one thing we can do for those unvaccinated kids.'”
dr. Brad Hardy, a family physician at the Warren Clinic in Saint Francis, agreed.
“You know, politicians will say there’s no conclusive evidence regarding masking, as to how well it works, but if you ask a clinician, doctor, or someone who actually studies science, I mean, there’s universal acceptance,” Hardy said.
dr. Cliff Robertson, president and CEO of Saint Francis, said the health care system would support all mask mandates implemented by the local government.
“Our role is not to be in the middle of politics. We are not a political organization. What’s important to us is that we do everything we can to educate our community,” Robertson said. “Whether or not children need to wear masks, we truly believe that parents need information and with that information they can make the right decision for them and their children.”
“We’ve said publicly, and I’ll say it again today, that if there were a mask mandate, both local and wider, we wouldn’t be against it. We would support a mask mandate,” Robertson said.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s most recent weekly epidemiological report, dated Sept. 1, at least four Oklahoma children have died from COVID-19. According to OSDH, 95 children statewide were hospitalized with COVID-19 from August 1 through August 30.