Doctors warn ‘children are not immune’ as Ohio hits 3,000 daily COVID cases

Ohio reported just over 3,000 daily cases of coronavirus Monday, with 3,091 cases recorded in the last day, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Meanwhile, Ohio doctors are warning that more kids, even healthy kids without underlying conditions, are being hospitalized with COVID-19. Nationally, pediatric hospital admission rates are the highest they have ever been during the pandemic. In Ohio, child hospitalizations are creeping up but are not as dire as elsewhere in the country yet.

Dr. Adam Mezoff, vice president and chief medical officer at Dayton Children’s said the hospital is seeing twice as many COVID-19 patients as it did a year ago.

“Some of these patients do require a stay in our pediatric intensive care unit,” Mezoff said.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus reported Monday that its total hospitalized COVID-19 patient count has doubled in the last week to 20 patients, of which 15 are acutely ill, five patients are in the intensive care unit and two patients are on ventilators. One of the children in the intensive care unit has no underlying health conditions.

“Children are not immune to getting COVID,” said Dr. Rustin Morse, chief medical officer at Nationwide Children’s. “You can be perfectly healthy and you can actually get this disease as a child and become critically ill. So if you are a parent who thinks that my child’s healthy, they have no underlying conditions I don’t need to mask or I don’t need to get vaccinated or I don’t need to get my children vaccinated if they’re eligible, it would give me pause as a parent to take a step back and reconsider that decision.”

On Monday, the Infectious Diseases Society of America urged school systems nationwide to use all available public health tools to prevent COVID-19 transmission in schools. That includes vaccinations for eligible individuals and universal mask wearing.

Morse said now is the time for schools that have not adopted mask mandates to do so.

“If you look at what’s happened in the southern states we are seeing aggressive spread within schools of COVID and we are seeing some spread here within Ohio so it is an opportune time in my opinion to put a temporary mandatory masking guideline in place for all ages, including teachers within schools, just to get us through the next few weeks,” he said. “There’s really no downside on masking there’s only upside from a safety perspective.”

Morse encouraged everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine to get the shot.

“There’s almost no risk to getting the vaccine,” he said. “It’s been proven to be quite safe, quite effective with over 350 million doses given in this country alone. And there are countless stories that are coming out from well-validated sources of people who have chosen not to get the vaccine who are either critically ill or whom have died of COVID. So the risk-benefit ratio is far in the favor of someone who is eligible for getting the vaccine to get the vaccine, than to take their chances with this disease.”

After a week where the state surpassed 4,000 and 5,000 daily cases for the first time since the winter, the 3,091 cases reported Monday are the fewest reported in a week.

Last week, all of Ohio’s 88 counties and nearly all of the U.S. reported over 100 cases per 100,000 people, which meets the Centers for Disease control and Prevention’s definition for a high transmission rate of COVID-19 (the highest level on the CDC’s scale). All Dayton-area counties are at over three times that benchmark.