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

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Doctors said they are seeing an increase of young children testing positive for COVID and some of those cases are ending up in the 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, Aug. 26, and another high with 190 on Sunday, Aug. 22. The Garden Isle’s 33 new COVID cases reported on Aug. 26 also include ten among children.

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

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

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

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

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

While some children may experience mild reactions to COVID, it is what happens down the line that worries doctors the most.

“They can get something a few weeks after being exposed to the virus called MISC-C. It’s something that we’re seeing in children that develops as high fevers and rash that can affect the heart and is pretty scary looking and dangerous as well,” said Dr. Patel.

“We know a subset of kids who do okay in the beginning and then will then develop what’s called long COVID. That’s when the symptoms go on and on and on for months. So we are very worried about the number of kids cases that we’re seeing rise so dramatically over the last month,” Dr. Okihiro said.

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

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“I think all pediatricians are really just asking our families to please consider it that we would not lie to our patients that we consider it safe,” said Dr. Okihiro.

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