COVID-19 cases also rising in children

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MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Sophia Villarraga, 11, was having a great summer. She was in camp and enjoying time with her family. Now, she’s in the COVID-19 ward at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.

The hospital is not letting anyone in or out of their COVID unit, so NewsNation spoke with Sophia and her mom on Zoom from outside.

“There was this one time I had a really high fever. And I felt like I couldn’t stand up,” said Villarraga.

Sophia has no pre-existing conditions. Both of her parents are vaccinated but because she’s just shy of her 12th birthday, she wasn’t able to get the shot. 

Her mother doesn’t know how she contracted the virus. One day she was at home like normal and then the next she was in the hospital.

“The delta variant has definitely caused an increase in volume we don’t see in the summertime,” said the chief medical officer at Nicklaus Children’s Dr. Marcos Mestre. “Usually summer is our low season. Our emergency department and urgent cares are seeing 25 to 50% more patients.”

A spike in COVID-19 cases is affecting not just adults but also children nationwide. Last week, almost 39,000 kids tested positive. That’s nearly 17% of all reported cases.

In Arkansas, the children’s hospital in Little Rock is seeing a record number of cases. Twenty-four patients were admitted with seven in intensive care.

“We’re definitely seeing a difference now with the delta variant has become predominant in both the impact on kids, the number of children admitted to the hospital and their severity of illness,” said Arkansas Children’s Hospital Chief Clinical Officer Rick Barr.

Overall, doctors say kids do handle COVID quite well. Only 1% need hospitalization, and very few die. But Sophia’s mom says it’s not worth taking the chance.

Parents at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital are allowed to be in their child’s room, but once they’re in they can never leave. They can’t even go into the hallway. Sophia’s mom has been in the room with her daughter for five days now. 

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