Augusta pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations low

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — While pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 rise in some parts of the country, they remain relatively low in Augusta. No children were being treated for the virus at Doctors or University Hospitals Thursday, while five were hospitalized at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia (CHOG). That number was down from seven Tuesday.

“We’re not seeing a huge number of hospitalizations with kids,” Dr. Jim Wilde, a pediatric emergency physician at CHOG, explains “We’ve had a few over the last couple of weeks. We’ve had a couple who have had fairly severe symptoms and even needed to be in the ICU for a few days. But ICU admissions for COVID in children are quite uncommon.”

Dr. Jim Wilde, a pediatric emergency physician, tells NewsChannel 6 the number of recent hospitalizations at CHOG has not differed from those during “wave two” (August 2020) or “wave three” (February 2021) of the pandemic.

Pediatric cases of COVID-19 have “steadily increased since the beginning of July” across the country, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It reported 94,000 cases were added last week.

“There are a large number of kids who are getting COVID,” Wilde adds. “But, in general, kids handle COVID very well. COVID is not a major killer of kids. It’s is a major killer of older adults, particularly adults over the age of 55.”

Like its next-door neighbor, Augusta University Medical Center, CHOG is nearly full with patients of all kinds, not just those being treated for COVID-19. Wilde says it is turning two departments into ICU units to help handle the load.

“We are tight, but we were tight before this wave of COVID hit.”

“When you’re already operating near capacity and then have a situation like a pandemic, it’s going to push most hospitals over the edge,” he adds.

As Augusta pushes through “wave four” of the pandemic, Wilde says he is worried how the virus is progressing and the threat it continues to pose to adults.

“The issue is when you have large numbers of people who are unvaccinated, COVID can spread to high risk people, particularly people over age 55 or people with major underlying medical conditions.”

“I think there’s a very strong chance we’re going to have a ‘wave five’ in the winter that’s probably going to be a pretty severe one,” he adds.

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