Pediatric COVID-19 cases hit record high as students return to school

With a majority of North Texas school districts starting classes again, pediatricians are encouraging parents to be proactive about slowing the spread of the omicron variant.

Parents already know they should get their children tested and not send them to school if they have COVID symptoms, but pediatricians are reminding them to not hesitate to take action.

Cook Children's Health in Fort Worth says it is seeing a record number of children with the virus as the number of kids infected continues to climb.

The percentage of people testing positive dropped on Wednesday ever so slightly for the first time in a month. But that percentage is now four times higher than a month ago. And now students are headed back to class.

Child COVID-19 vaccine

FILE - A child receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an elementary school vaccination site for children ages 5 to 11-year-old. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cook Children’s Healthcare System is seeing a record number. Out of every three tests, one comes back positive.

Children’s Health in Dallas is also seeing cases climb.

Omicron symptoms: Is that runny nose COVID-19 or a common cold?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Health.

"This is going to be a difficult next couple of weeks," he said. "I think that kids going back to school, the virus is going to spread in that environment."

Dr. Kahn says many of the children hospitalized for COVID either have immune issues or are unvaccinated.

"This is not a cold. This is a life-threatening disease, in some cases," he said. "And I think if those parents who are standing at the bedside of their child in the ICU and had an opportunity to go back in time that they would have gotten their children vaccinated."

Dr. Diane Arnaout is a pediatrician with Cook Children’s.

"I want people to think like the parents of a child who have cancer, who has cancer or the parents of a child has diabetes, what would you want the community to do for your kid right now?" she asked.

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For now, doctors recommend getting your child the vaccine and also stepping up mask usage.

"I mean, my kids got tired of masks. I'm tired of masks. But I think that it takes a community effort to bring these surges down," Dr. Arnaout said. "I think in a perfect world, I would love if our community would mask up during these bad times and then we could be more chill about it when the numbers are going down."

And if your child does get sick, be careful even though COVID-19 tests haven’t been easy to get your hands on.

"So my best advice to parents is don't send a sick kid to school," Dr. Arnaout said. "Err on the side of caution and contact your pediatrician or your hospital system to see where the most the quickest COVID test could be obtained."                     

The doctors also mentioned that with the flu going around, there are concerns about that rising at a time hospitals are stressed. That’s another disease with a vaccine out there.

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