North Texas pediatric ICU hospitalizations remain near capacity post-Labor Day

Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to raise concern across the region as ICU units at both major North Texas children's hospitals remain near capacity.

There are currently just three available staffed pediatric ICU beds in the North Texas hospital region.

"It's double to what we had back in January, which tells you just how contagious this Delta variant is," said Stephen Love, president, DFW Hospital Council.

Love is worried about the growing number of school districts having to shut down entire campuses due to COVID-19 spread. He says otherwise healthy kids are ending up in the hospital where there are staffing and bed shortages across the North Texas.

"The state has helped us and we thank the state, but a lot of the people that have been assigned have still not been deployed," he said. 

Love is worried about what he referred to as a "twin pandemic" as we head into the fall season.

"By that I mean if were not wearing masks properly and we have a flu epidemic and we add to that COVID-19, we could really have capacity issues staffing issues we've never seen before," Love said.

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Dr. Diego Hijano, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, says this flu season is especially concerning given the continued COVID-19 surge among kids and another rampant respiratory illness, RSV.

"That's something that we are monitoring week after week. We haven't seen flu activity yet, but we all think it's going to come soon. That's what we are working already with, with patients, families and pediatricians in the community to make sure that everyone is going to get their flu vaccine as soon as becomes available," Hijano said.

He says it’s important that kids continue to wear masks as the COVID vaccine is not yet available for children under the age of 12. He says masks can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, flu and RSV. 

"It's really not a good situation to relax or back down," Hijano said.

Love says in a week to ten days health officials will know how big a role Labor Day festivities played in potential further COVID-19 spread.


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