61 Children's Wisconsin COVID patients in August

There are COVID concerns on two fronts as the American Academy of Pediatrics reports a quarter of a million cases among children; the highest figure of weekly cases since the pandemic began. This, as a new strain of the virus is adding to fears.

According to state records Wednesday, Sept. 8, 88% of hospital beds among all age groups in Wisconsin are in use, with patients hospitalized with COVID at its highest number in months.

While delta remains the dominant variant in most coronavirus cases, health officials are now turning their attention to another mutation – mu.

"A percentage of all samples are tested for all variants," said Kirsten Johnson, Milwaukee health commissioner.

First identified in Colombia earlier this year, mu has now been detected in 49 states and 42 countries.  California is currently seeing the highest number of mu cases in the U.S. but locally:

"I have not heard of any local cases of the mu variant but you can visit the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene website and they have really good variant information online," said Johnson.

The lab is reinforcing the small state percentage with its data.  Hospitalizations, on the other hand, are rising.  Advocate Aurora alone is reporting a 22.6% increase in just the last week, and statewide among children, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports increases since April.  At Children’s Wisconsin, the number of kids in the hospital who tested positive for COVID jumped from 11 in June to 61 in August.  At UW Health:

"We have more cases in the hospital with kids with COVID than we’ve had since January of this year," said Dr. James Conway, UW Health.

Dr. Conway said this wave among children is starting at home -- in households with unvaccinated adults.

"I think we know the things to do," said Conway. "We need to be vaccinating everyone who can be vaccinated, wearing masks in large settings and hold tight and be patient and give science time to vaccinate kids.  We’re hopeful it will be by the end of 2021.  "

By comparison, the number of kids at Children’s who tested positive for COVID came close to numbers not seen since last December. At its peak in November 2020, 78 children tested positive here.

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