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More Sacramento-Area Children Hospitalized With COVID

Sutter Medical Center Sacramento, UC Davis Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente's Roseville Medical Center saw a combined total of 53 inpatient pediatric admissions positive for the virus from July 16 through Aug. 12.

(AP/Rebecca Blackwell)
(TNS) - At least 40 children with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were admitted to Sacramento-area hospitals in a two-week stretch from late July to early August, about triple the confirmed total from the prior two weeks in July, federal data show.

Sutter Medical Center Sacramento, UC Davis Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente's Roseville Medical Center saw a combined total of 53 inpatient pediatric admissions positive for the virus from July 16 through Aug. 12, a Sacramento Bee review of weekly hospital census data submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found.

The combined weekly totals at those facilities were eight, five, 20 and then 20 again.

Children made up 4.4% of all COVID-positive admissions with age data available at those three hospitals from July 16 to July 29, then 8.4% from July 30 to Aug. 12, according to the HHS reports.

The 16 other hospitals in the six-county region of Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba did not record any inpatient pediatric admissions with confirmed COVID-19 during those four weeks. Most of those facilities reported zero each week, though there were also weeks with no data reported on pediatric cases at some facilities.

Health officials in California and across the U.S. have for weeks acknowledged seeing increases in younger patients getting sick with COVID-19, with children growing ill enough to require hospitalization at rates not seeing during previous surges.

Sacramento’s local health office, in a recent update to its COVID-19 data dashboard, began to display the number of coronavirus-positive pediatric patients in county hospitals each weekday. The total was six as of Tuesday’s update, down from seven Monday and 11 last Friday. The county had roughly 400 virus patients hospitalized each day across all age groups.

UC Davis Health in an Aug. 13 news release said people ages 19 or younger made up 23% of the hospital’s emergency department visits for symptomatic COVID-19 in July and 17% up to that point in August. That age cohort made up only 9% of such visits in May.

Before the delta surge, health officials had said severe cases of COVID-19 in children were exceptionally rare.

Concerns now are further amplified by the highly infectious delta variant, coupled with the fact that most school districts are getting underway after many campuses across California spent all or nearly all of the previous academic year in distance learning.

And, perhaps most critically, children younger than 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

“A woman came in with her toddler, who was ill,” Nick Sawyer, an emergency physician at UC Davis Medical Center, said in the news release. “The mother had been vaccinated, but her boyfriend had not. Her toddler ended up getting COVID, which was very upsetting for her.”

UC Davis Medical Center had four pediatric admissions with confirmed COVID-19 from July 16 to July 22, seven from July 30 to Aug. 5 and eight from Aug. 6 to Aug. 12, HHS data show. No data was available for the week of July 23 to July 29.

The HHS figures are “compatible with UC Davis Health’s data,” spokeswoman Marianne Russ Sharp wrote in an emailed response to The Bee. An exact week-by-week comparison isn’t possible because internal weekly reports and the HHS surveys are done on different days of the week, Sharp said.

Kaiser Roseville had 12 COVID-positive pediatric hospitalizations in the past two weeks: seven for July 30 to Aug. 5 and five from Aug. 6 through Aug. 12, according to HHS.

“We can confirm this, although some of these pediatric patients came to the hospital for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 and tested positive as part of our regular screening process upon admission,” Kim Menzel, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente Roseville, said in an emailed response.

“We continue to encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and take precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19, especially to help protect the youngest people in our communities who cannot yet be vaccinated themselves.”

In those four weeks, Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento saw child admissions totals of four, five, six and then seven, according to the HHS data. Sutter Health in an emailed response said it could not confirm exact numbers but said COVID-19 patients have been increasing at Sutter Medical Center’s Children’s Center over the past month.

Sacramento County health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye earlier this month in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors confirmed a minimum of five county residents younger than 18 being hospitalized with COVID-19 during July. But that figure came from a largely incomplete data set, with hospitalization data unavailable for about two-thirds of confirmed cases from last month, according to Kasirye’s report.

Numbers for cumulative child hospitalizations over the course of the pandemic, or figures for juveniles in hospital beds during the worst of the winter surge, are not immediately available.

The HHS data does not break hospitalizations down further within juvenile age groups, meaning it’s unknown whether the 53 recent hospitalizations were primarily teenagers, younger children or a mix of both.

It’s also not known how many, if any, came in vaccinated adolescents ages 12 through 17. About 41% of Sacramento County residents and 45% of Placer County residents in that age group are fully vaccinated, California Department of Public Health data show.


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