North Texas pediatric hospitals at 93% capacity; doctors urge mask wearing for kids

For the second day in a row, there are no staffed pediatric ICU beds in the North Texas region.

At last check, 72 kids are in the hospital with COVID-19. Combined with a rise in RSV cases, pediatric hospitals are 93% full.

Now, the Association of American Medical Colleges says until there is a vaccine for kids, children should be wearing masks to protect themselves from the delta variant. 

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The spike is happening across the nation and in North Texas 19-county Trauma Service Area E, where pediatric patients this week hit a pandemic high.

Nearly 93% of children's hospital beds are filled with few to no pediatric ICU beds available. Hospitals are even shifting other areas to provide critical care to kids sick with COVID.

In-school learning

FILE - A student wears a mask while listening to her teacher. (INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr. Ross McKinney, the chief scientific officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, says with children back in school, masks should be required. 

"There is good demonstration that masks protect the children," he said. "Because kids can't be vaccinated yet. We don’t have a vaccine for kids."

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Lisa Marais signed up her three boys for the Moderna vaccine trial.

"A 7-year-old, a 3-year-old and, at the time, a 7-month-old," she explained. "Because we believe in science, and we try to do what we can to expedite this vaccination process."

Marais’ 7-year-old Connor got either the placebo or the Moderna vaccine last week, but 10-month-old Matthew was the first in the trial to get his shot back in June at 7 months old.

"He was part of the phase one trial. So actually, they were testing the dosage with him so he definitely did get the vaccine," she said.

3-year-old Blake is waiting for his shot of either the vaccine or placebo.

Marais says there have been no side effects.

"To be honest, the nasal swabs and the COVID test was way worse than the jab for both my kids," she said. "They kind of stared at the jab coming in. Looked at the lady, looked down again and they've been fine."

Because the clinical trials with children are still happening, vaccines for 12 and under are still months away.

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"So we shouldn't expect to see the clinical trials giving us results that will enable us to get a kid vaccine until probably January or late December," Dr. McKinney said. "And that’s when we'll be able to start vaccinating kids."

Dr. McKinney says it’s a very different scene with delta than it was before. And until there is a vaccine for 12 and under, he is concerned many children will continue to get sick if they don't wear a mask.