To Combat Increase In Pediatric Hospitalizations, Mandate Masks In Schools

Indiana, like many other states in the US, is experiencing a rapid increase in the number of children in hospitals due to COVID-19.

One in 38 children with a positive COVID-19 test is hospitalized in Indiana. dr. Gabriel Bosslet is a pulmonary and critical care physician and professor at Indiana University’s School of Medicine. He said the data isn’t necessarily as bad as it seems.

“Those aren’t all cases, are they? Many children have COVID and have never been tested. So it’s not one in 38 children who will ever get COVID, but 1 in 38 of the detected cases,” Bosslet said.

In comparison, Indiana’s rate is better than Ohio’s — Bosslet said one in 18 children with a positive COVID-19 test are hospitalized in Ohio.

Bosslet said children are less likely to be tested for COVID-19 than adults – they are less likely to be symptomatic and often there is no huge benefit to having them tested unless the disease is severe.

This increase in the number of cases in Indiana has caused pediatric specialists at Riley Hospital for Children to sound the alarm.

Riley doctors say their COVID-19 hospitalizations are the highest in months — the facility receives sick children from across the state, as a nationally recognized children’s hospital.

dr. Brian Wagers, Riley’s associate chief medical officer and emergency medicine physician, said the pediatric hospitalization rate in Indiana is very similar to what the rest of the country is experiencing.

“I will say that at the moment we have a lot more patients in our hospital admitted for RSV and other respiratory illnesses than COVID-19,” Wagers said. “But we still have a higher number than we often had before in the pandemic.”

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. But for children under 1 year old, it can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

READ MORE: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Children? This is what you need to know

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Bosslet said the increase in hospital admissions points to a real need to keep children healthy by wearing masks at school.

“I think it’s very reasonable to just say, well, see if it keeps kids in school and limit the amount of colds they get while we’re going through this COVID wave so we don’t have to have them inside. quarantine, I think that’s perfectly reasonable,” said Bosslet.

Pediatric specialists at Riley agree – Bet that to protect children, Indiana must use the preventative measures that worked before: washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks.

Wagers said as a parent and doctor, he has explained to others that wearing masks is like putting on shoes: You can send kids out the door without shoes, but you don’t want to hurt their feet.

“So if I think something will protect my kids — and the preponderance of evidence is that masks will help protect the kids who can’t be vaccinated right now — not just against COVID, but many other diseases, why shouldn’t we? to do? I’m doing something that’s going to protect them?” said bets.

School companies across the state are implementing mask mandates, while others are being forced to go remote.

dr. John Christenson is Riley’s medical director of infection prevention. He told him that the decision whether or not to mask is quite easy.

“Which is worse? Being quarantined and staying at home and not being able to get the education you need or go to school and get the education you need with a mask on?” said Christenson.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Indiana has reported 104 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations so far in August. That’s compared to 37 admissions statewide in June.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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