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Kids may be more impacted by the next surge in COVID-19 cases, health officials say

One local doctor told 3News that she has seen an uptick in children being hospitalized for COVID-19 related issues, especially among the unvaccinated.

CLEVELAND — The winter months and covid variants are upping the number of children with COVID-19 at an all-time high across the country. 3News' Lydia Esparra spoke with local health officials who say that it's the same here in Northeast Ohio.

"As with the delta variant, we are a little further behind with the omicron variant but not by much. But probably about a week," says Dr. Claudia Hoyen, a pediatrician and is the director of infection control with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s. 

A week can make a difference with ICUs already loaded with kids.

Rainbow, like other area hospitals, is inundated with patients. Doctors are seeing many kids between five and 11 years old. Dr. Hoyen also says she has seen an uptick in 12 to 17-year-olds coming in sick from COVID-19, most of them unvaccinated. 

"We need to care about our children enough to vaccinate them, care about them enough to mask them," says Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Masking them especially when they get back to school.

Because doctors say that holidays like Christmas and New Year's Eve are super spreaders, many health professionals agree that implementing a mask mandate for the beginning of the new semester could be beneficial in both protecting students and teachers, as well as stopping another surge. However, if a new surge does happen, Dr Hoyen says that Rainbow Babies and Children’s is ready.

“We are ramped up and ready for anything coming our way. As our delta is going down our omicron is going up. I think the next two weeks will be very telling in Northeast Ohio," the doctor says. 

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