The Covid surge is also stacking upon an unseasonable spike in respiratory illnesses among children typically seen only in winter. That has shrunk the bed space further in children’s hospitals and expanded on the unrelenting demand on doctors and nurses.
‘It is scary, especially for kids who don’t fully understand what’s going on. They’re air hungry, struggling for breath, and it’s just scary,’ said Dr. Kelechi Iheagwara, medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. ‘You have the illness, the fear, they can’t breathe, they’re isolated — that’s hard for anyone to understand, but can you imagine what it’s like for a kid?’
Her hospital has treated Covid in children ages from 3-week-olds to 17-year-olds in recent weeks. Iheagawara said that for the past month, her unit has had to treat 25 or 26 patients in a space designed for 20. And things are getting worse.
Multiple doctors in the half-dozen children’s hospitals NBC News reached out to said they have seen children infected because a member of their household, often a parent, brings the coronavirus home. Oftentimes, it is because an adult in the home is unvaccinated.