COLUMBIA, S.C. — Pediatricians are sounding the alarm on how the delta variant of COVID-19 is affecting kids. They warn that it’s affecting many more children here in South Carolina and making them sicker than before.
“We have seen a rise in COVID cases in children,” said Dr. Caughman Taylor, the Medical Director of Prisma Health Midlands' Children’s Hospital.
As South Carolina sees a surge in the delta variant, pediatricians warn the coronavirus is acting differently than before.
“We’ve been full in our PICU for over three weeks,” Taylor said on a media call Thursday.
The Medical Director of their Upstate Children's Hospital, Dr. Robin LaCroix, added that South Carolina's "highest rate of positivity is in our 11 to 20-year-old group.” That's a stark difference from earlier in the pandemic when most cases were among the elderly.
“We have had double or almost two-and-a-half times the number of children with COVID in our children’s hospital in the Midlands than we ever have before with the surges," said Taylor. "The most we ever had in the past was 5 or 6 and now we’ve had up to 14.”
Some of their young patients have a couple of co-morbidities in common, while others were seemingly healthy when they got sick with COVID-19.
Taylor said that "many of the kids have things like asthma. One thing we’re seeing in our children’s hospital is obesity. It tends to affect kids who are overweight."
However, he added that they're also "seeing some healthy children with no identifiable risk factors.”
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the state has had a total of five coronavirus deaths up to age 10, and 10 deaths ages 11 to 20.
Children under 12 can’t be vaccinated, but doctors say there are several other ways to protect them.
“We can cocoon these children into a safer environment by masking and by having all the adults and all the eligible people be vaccinated,” said LaCroix.
Meanwhile, Taylor pleaded with the community.
"Everyone has a child, relative or friend with a child or loved one with a child," he said. "Do your part, wear a mask, please.”