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Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations hit all-time high in Dallas-Fort Worth, officials say

The delta variant has also made younger adults sicker, with people in their 20s and 30s increasingly needing ventilators, said Steve Love, president and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council.

By Catherine Marfin

Medical Center's pediatric intensive care
Entrance of the Children’s Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit in Dallas on Friday, August 13, 2021.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations hit an all-time high in the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the weekend, the president and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council said Monday.

As of Monday, 131 children were hospitalized with the novel coronavirus in the 19-county area that covers Dallas-Fort Worth, the council leader, Steve Love, said Tuesday.

It’s the highest number of pediatric hospitalizations since the pandemic began and double the number of kids hospitalized in January, before vaccines were available.

“This delta variant is making younger people much sicker,” Love said. “We’re seeing that even in adults, a lot of the adults we’re treating are young adults.”

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Love urged people to get vaccinated against the virus, citing that the highly contagious delta variant, which health experts say has caused the average age of COVID-19 hospitalizations to go down. The variant also accounts for most new infections.

He said the patients who have to be put on ventilators recently have been in their 20s, 30s and 40s, age groups that were previously not considered to be at high risk for severe illness.

“I know people have strong feelings [about vaccinations],” Love said. “Let’s put all the emotions aside. Please talk to a trusted source. Look at the real scientific evidence. And if you’re not vaccinated, please give it serious consideration. It may save your life.”

Love said there are currently about 3,420 patients hospitalized with the virus in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a slight decrease from the previous few days. The number accounts for 25% of all hospitalized patients in the region — 10 percentage points above the capacity that Gov. Greg Abbott has previously said was cause for concern.

Hospitals in the area are running at about 92% capacity, and some pediatric hospitals in the area were operating at as high as 98% capacity over the weekend, Love said.

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Love warned about further strains on staffing and resources if the trends continue, but said he’s hopeful that the most recent UT Southwestern Medical Center forecast — which predicts that coronavirus hospitalizations may be close to their peak — holds true.

He said the impact of the Labor Day holiday, as well as recent in-person events like college football games, will be seen in the next seven to 10 days. He urged people to continue to wear masks in large crowds as in-person gatherings continue over the next few weeks.

“Don’t be ashamed to wear a mask,” Love said. ” If you go to the grocery store, if you’re in a crowd, please wear a mask. You’re protecting yourself and you’re protecting your family and friends.”

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