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“I don’t think it’s time for panic” says ETCH Chief Medical Officer

Four children in Knoxville were hospitalized with COVID-19, according to officials at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 4:20 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The East Tennessee Children’s Hospital confirmed with WVLT they currently have four COVID-19 positive patients being treated in their Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Chief Medical Officer Joe Childs spoke with WVLT News about what parents can do to keep their children safe from COVID-19.

“I don’t want anybody freaking out. I don’t think it’s time for panic,” Dr. Childs said.

While there are four child patients at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital with the virus, at the peak of the pandemic the hospital saw even more.

“Back in December, January and February we did have as many as seven at a time in the hospital,” Dr. Childs said.

The majority of the children being treated for COVID-19 at ETCH have underlying health conditions, according to Dr. Childs.

With concerns rising about the Delta variant of COVID-19, Dr. Childs recommends parents consider vaccinating their child if they are eligible and consider it for themselves as well.

“It’s really important to know that the vaccine is still very effective,” Childs said. “It’s doing what it was designed to do, which is to protect us from getting seriously ill.”

Dr. Childs also recommended masking in schools. “I think all parents need to strongly consider encouraging their kids to mask, at least now while the case numbers are so high,” he said.

As of Monday morning, they also had four children hospitalized with Covid-19, with three of them in the PICU at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, Ballad Health told WJHL News.

“We have two teenagers and one child who is less than the age of three in the PICU right now, so it’s a risk for everyone,” Ballad Health CEO, Alan Levine told WJHL. One of those children is on a ventilator.

“With the Delta variant we’re seeing children not only being hospitalized but you’re also seeing children who may not be hospitalized but who end up with symptoms,” Levine said. “The literature is starting to show is that some of these children end up with long haul symptoms.”

Those symptoms include brain fog, heart palpitations and fatigue for several months after the virus’ onset.

Levine suggested parents follow CDC guidelines and have their children wear a mask while at school.

“Balance the risk of the downside of wearing masks with the downside of catching this virus and having your child end up on a ventilator or have long haul symptoms,” Levine said. “Weigh the risk of your child sitting in the room next to somebody who has this virus, particularly if your child has asthma or other kinds of co-morbidities, consider that risk.”

Levine anticipates the next two weeks to be “telling” with the numbers since this variant spreads much faster and the symptoms show up much earlier.

There are currently eight children in the hospital with COVID, two in the ICU at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, according to Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Le Bonheur, Nick Hysmith.

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