COVID-19 pediatric hospitalizations in Florida hit new record

More than 11,000 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide

File Photo of UF Health

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Total COVID-19 pediatric hospitalizations in Florida reached a new high, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data posted Friday.

Friday’s update showed there were 237 total pediatric patients confirmed with COVID-19 in the state. The previous high was 235 reported Wednesday.

The federal data also showed Friday that there were 11,160 total COVID-19 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida.

Health experts went into the COVID-19 numbers during a UF Health monthly conference call Friday.

Dr. Chirag Patel with UF Health Jacksonville — who was on the call — said, nationally, there have been nearly 200,000 more pediatric COVID-19 cases in the past five weeks of the omicron variant surge than there were during the worst five weeks of the delta variant surge.

He also confirmed child hospitalizations are on the rise.

Baptist Health reported Friday that it had 227 COVID-19 patients across its five-hospital system. Of those, 25 were children at Wolfson Children’s Hospital and seven were in the ICU. The pediatric numbers for Wolfson the last three days — 24 on Wednesday, 23 on Thursday and 25 on Friday — are all higher than the highest point in the delta variant surge for Wolfson. The seven children in the ICU matches the highest number for pediatric ICU patients at Wolfson during delta.

Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, said the United States is averaging 800,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, and Florida is averaging about 63,000 new cases per day, fueled mainly by the omicron variant.

As of Friday, UF Health had 138 COVID-19 patients, with 19 in the intensive care unit.

Health experts who discussed the coronavirus during Friday’s call also said they are monitoring research that shows there is a higher probability of children getting a new diabetes diagnosis after contracting COVID-19.

“If a child contracts COVID, regardless of their symptoms, greater than 30 days after their infection, they are now at a higher risk of developing diabetes. That should be frightening to any parent out there. It should be even more reason to take into consideration the usefulness of getting COVID vaccination that goes beyond just getting COVID,” Patel said.

Neilsen said vaccine compliance in Florida is roughly 72%.

As time goes on, doctors predict, COVID-19 will probably become similar to the common cold.

Meanwhile, starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans.

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