‘We could lose a child here in ENC’: Pediatricians warn of rising COVID-19 cases in children


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The latest wave of the delta variant is affecting children.

The NC Department of Health & Human Services reported more than 9,600 children tested positive the week of August 22 for COVID-19. That number is almost equal to the number of children’s cases in all of June and July.

Pediatricians at Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville said they’re seeing a 300 to 400 percent increase in children who are getting COVID. They said some kids are deathly ill and are requiring weeks of rehabilitation.

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“Some of our kids that were the sickest required a feeding tube,” said Dr. Matthew Ledoux, pediatrician in chief at Maynard Children’s Hospital. “Some required a more permanent breathing tube placed and were on ventilators.”

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It should be an exciting time for Pitt County Schools. Students are back to in-person learning for the first time in more than a year.

“We’re very excited about students being in our buildings,” said Jennifer Johnson, Pitt County Schools spokesperson.

Educators are facing a new challenge this year — the delta variant. Right now, Pitt County Schools has 243 active cases and 1,533 students and employees in quarantine.

“Just as there is a high positivity rate in Pitt County itself, we are seeing those cases and seeing some of that effect in our school system as well,” said Johnson.

Pediatricians across the country are seeing an increase in child COVID cases. Maynard Children’s Hospital is experiencing the same trends.

“Acute COVID or pulmonary disease in children is increasing pretty dramatically here in the last couple of weeks,” said Dr. Ledoux.

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Ledoux said so far, he hasn’t seen any deaths in Eastern North Carolina. He warns it’s not out of the question.

“At our current trajectory, the kids are sick enough that there is a high likelihood that we could lose a child here in Eastern North Carolina,” he said.

Many districts, like PCS, are requiring masks. School leaders are also asking for parents’ help to slow the spread.

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“This is just a time in our lives, in our school system where we just can’t send students to school with those symptoms,” said Johnson.

Ledoux said there’s also something you can do to help.

“We’re pushing for vaccines for everyone because it’s not only going to help keep you safe,” he said. “It’s going to help keep your family, the community and Eastern North Carolina safe.”

PCS has a live COVID dashboard. Nurses across the district put in information in real time, updating COVID numbers throughout the day. Click here to view the dashboard.


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