Child COVID hospitalizations up slightly in Colorado

The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado is slightly increasing, prompting public health officials to assess how many beds the state has in the event of a fall wave of illnesses.

While Colorado is not yet seeing the high rates of pediatric hospitalizations as in other states, physicians have reported a rise in respiratory viruses that aren’t the novel coronavirus — such as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. These illnesses typically appear during the fall and winter months, but this year they also showed up in the summer.

“As we move into the fall, I think we’re going to be seeing not just increased hospitalizations among children for COVID-19 but also potentially with other respiratory viruses,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said Thursday.

New cases of COVID-19 have continued to rise as the delta variant sweeps through the U.S., though Colorado hasn’t seen the same constraints on hospital capacity as in states where intensive care units are filling. Colorado did record 7,238 new cases last week, which is more than three times as many as in mid-June when the decline from the fourth wave ended.

Coronavirus hospitalizations have increased to the highest level since May, with 693 people being treated for confirmed or suspected cases on Wednesday, according to data from the health department. Most of the people hospitalized are adults.

Overall, the number of intensive-care beds in use in the state has increased from 72.4% to 80.6% in the past 30 days. The use of medical and surgical hospital beds have remained flat, CDPHE said.

“Given the increase we are seeing in our pediatric population, (we) are beginning to work on a deeper dive into our pediatric ICU capacity,” said Scott Bookman, COVID-19 incident commander for the state health department.

In recent days, the governor has asked the state to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers and recommended that school districts require masks as students return to classes.

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