As Pediatric COVID Hospitalizations Rise, Doctor Warns 'There's Trouble Around the Corner'

A doctor at a hospital in Michigan said that staff there are "a little bit on edge at this point," as the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks.

"We currently are managing. It's absolutely manageable, but ... it appears as though there's trouble around the corner," Dr. Rudolph Valentini, a pediatric nephrologist at Children's Hospital of Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press.

Valentini estimated that 30-50 percent of the children at the hospital with COVID-19 require treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU).

"A fair number of them are requiring ventilation and we have some requiring ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation)," Valentini said. "The patients that are typically getting admitted are unvaccinated."

The White House said Wednesday that since federal health officials approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, 10 percent of eligible kids have received a dose.

The Detroit Free Press reported that as of Wednesday, 60 children in Michigan were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, which represents a 54 percent increase since November 3.

Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, said that at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, 18 children were admitted with the virus on Monday, "higher than any time we've seen" seen in the last 20 months, he told the newspaper.

The high rate of pediatric COVID cases isn't limited to Michigan. Across the United States, the number of children being infected with COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, during the week between November 4 and November 11, more than 122,000 pediatric COVID-19 cases were reported throughout the country, "an increase of about 22 percent from two weeks ago."

Doctor Warns of 'Trouble' as COVID Surges
A doctor at a Michigan hospital said that staff are "a little bit on edge at this point," as the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks. Above, Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak Campus in Royal Oak, Michigan is pictured on April 7, 2020. Jeff Kowalski

"Child cases have declined since a peak of 252,000 the week of September 2nd, but COVID cases among children remain extremely high. For the 14th week in a row child COVID-19 cases are above 100,000," the American Academy of Pediatrics said.

The organization noted that currently, "it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children."

"However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects," it added.

As winter approaches, many states have seen an increase in overall COVID-19 cases and some public health experts have warned that as cold weather sets in and people spend more time indoors, the U.S. could see another major surge in the coming months.