Two newborns among dozens of Georgia children hospitalized with COVID-19

Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations are up across Georgia, but children's hospitals say they can still handle the number of cases they're seeing.

At Memorial Health Willett Children's Hospital in Savannah, two newborns are among seven children hospitalized with COVID-19.

In all, Memorial Health has 125 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, a record for the pandemic.

Dr. Stephen Thacker, Memorial Health's Associate Chief Medical Officer and a pediatric infectious disease specialist, says they've had several babies born prematurely, who likely infected by their mothers.

"The number of women that are showing up laboring and COVID-positive has increased significantly, at least in our region, and I believe it's held true in most health systems," Dr. Thacker says.

SEE ALSO: Kemp vows more funding for Georgia hospitals to fight COVID-19

Overall, he says, the newborns are stable and appear to be doing well.

"But, for a baby being born prematurely, we don't need to add any more challenges to their health and keeping them well, and COVID-19 certainly does that," Thacker says.

Across the state, pediatric hospitals are busy, not just with COVID-19, but RSV, another respiratory virus hitting younger children hard, and the routine medical emergencies they typically see in the summer.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has 22 kids hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 4 a month ago.

Most have underlying health problems that put them at higher risk of complications from the virus, the hospital said in a statement.

Hospitals are really feeling the impact of the delta variant in their emergency departments.

"Nearly every pediatric ER in the region, including our own, is very busy with a large number of individuals wanting their children tested for mild symptoms or prior exposure," Thacker says.  "Part of the messaging is that we need to reserve our emergency rooms, whether pediatric or adult, for those true emergencies." 
If your child needs to get tested, Dr. Thacker recommends calling your pediatrician or primary care doctor or going to a community testing site.

And he's reassuring parents nervous about the delta variant.

"Most kids that get sick with COVID-19 are going to be okay," he says.  "It is rare that they end up having a need for hospitalization."

Still, Thacker says, the safety best is to protect your child from being infected by vaccinating those 12 and older and having children wear masks in school and public settings, and social distancing.

If your child is too young to get vaccinated, he says, make sure the adults around your child are vaccinated.

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