WAUWATOSA, Wis. - Children's Wisconsin is seeing an increase in kids testing positive for COVID-19. Hospitalizations are up, too, along with an increase in respiratory viruses.
Children's is reporting an increase in positive COVID-19 tests in patients at the hospital and through primary care over the last month, with hospital officials saying they usually have "a handful of patients with COVID-19 in the hospital." They shared new numbers Thursday, Aug. 5: Eight in May, four in June and 16 in July.
"There's no reason to think children are not susceptible," said Dr. Ellen Wald, chair of the University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics. "They're remaining susceptible because they're not eligible for vaccination."
Dr. Wald said the increase could be connected to more congregating and less mask-wearing. Children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination.
"We know for all indoor activities, you should definitely be wearing a mask," said Dr. Wald. "If you're outdoors and you're able to space somewhere between three and six feet between children, then probably wearing a mask is not important."
Children's Wisconsin is also seeing a dramatic increase in hospitalizations due to other respiratory viruses, like Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
"It's a very common what we would call community-acquired virus," said Dr. Wald.
Doctors say severe illness and death are uncommon for children who contract the virus. Health officials continue to call for increased vigilance to protect kids.
"There's a lot of COVID, an increasing amount in our community," said Dr. Wald. "The way to protect children until they can get the vaccine is to have them use their masks."
Doctors at Children's are encouraging those who are eligible to get vaccinated and urging kids to wash their hands, wear a mask and keep their distance.