Hawaii sees spike in pediatric COVID cases, increase in infant hospitalizations

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Doctors said they are seeing an increase in young children testing positive for COVID and some of those cases ending up in hospital. According to the Hawaii Department of Health, pediatric cases account for 20% to 25% percent of all cases in July and August.

Hawaii saw 198 pediatric cases on Thursday, August 26, and another high with 190 on Sunday, August 22. The Garden Isle’s 33 new COVID cases reported on August 26 also include ten among children.

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Pediatricians are starting to see more babies hospitalized with the virus.

“Some of them can have pneumonia, viral pneumonia, which can give them a fever and difficulty breathing, and they may need oxygen,” says Dr. Shilpa Patel, pediatric hospital at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

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Some pediatric cases on the Leeward coast are as young as a week old.

dr. May Okihiro, a pediatrician at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, said she recently saw a positive test from a 6-month-old patient. She said the delta variant changed everything.

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“What we’re seeing is that one member of the family will go positive for some reason and then the whole family will go positive,” said Dr. okhiro. “So it’s not uncommon for us to have households of five, six or ten people and everyone is positive.”

While some children may experience mild reactions to COVID, it’s what’s happening that worries doctors the most.

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“They can get something a few weeks after being exposed to the MISC-C virus. It’s something we see in children that develops as a high fever and skin rash that can affect the heart and also looks pretty scary and dangerous,” said Dr. patella.

“We know of a subset of children who do well in the beginning and then develop what has long been termed COVID. That’s when symptoms last for months. So we’re very concerned about the number of childhood cases that we’ve seen soaring so dramatically in the past month,” said Dr. okhiro.

Okihiro said protecting Hawaii’s keiki is under community control with social distancing, limiting gatherings and getting vaccinated.

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“I think all pediatricians are asking our families to please bear in mind that we wouldn’t lie to our patients that we consider it safe,” said Dr. okhiro.

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