ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Friday, The New York State Department of Health released a new report detailing a rise in COVID hospitalizations for school-aged children. This comes as the Omicron variant is skyrocketing.
The report pulls data from the first full week of December 2021, up until January 1 2022. Across the state, hospitalizations in children 18-and-under increased from 70 to 571 cases, in that time frame.
“Among children under five, and too little to get vaccinated, no vaccine approved for this age group, it’s gone up nearly eightfold,” said Dr. Mary Bassett. NYS health commissioner. “Cases in 12-18 year-olds has gone up tenfold…It’s the rate of increase more than the numbers makes us very concerned.”
But the report also acknowledges the increase is largely due to children being admitted “for both COVID-19 and other reasons.“
Here’s a quick look at the breakdown of data: From Early December 2021 to January 1 2022, the number of children admitted for just COVID alone jumped up by 290 cases. That same time frame, the number of children admitted for both COVID and another reason, jumping a slightly smaller amount.
So what are they being admitted for if it’s not just COVID?
Dr. Stephen Cook at Golisano Children’s Hospital says many children come in with respiratory illness RSV, or concerns for COVID exacerbating their pre-existing conditions. Some come in for something completely non-COVID related, and simply test positive in their stay.
About 30% of children admitted are just COVID, at most, Dr. Cook says.
“Something like 10% of kids are in [for something else] and found to be with COVID, i.e kid comes in from skiing breaking their ankle, gets tested and swabbed for COVID and he’s positive,” he said.
Dr. Cook says thankfully, the Rochester area is not seeing an alarming increase like other regions downstate are. Even with a major spike in COVID cases among school-aged children over the past month: the end of December showing just under 500 cases in Monroe County, while the second week of January shows almost 3,000.
He and other officials continue to urge vaccination, as the best defense a child can have, if they’re old enough. Pre-existing conditions or not.
Here in Monroe County just under 30% of children ages 5-11 have at least one dose, and just over 60% of ages 12-15 have their first dose.
Boosters have been approved for those 12-15.