As experts work to answer those questions, many hospitals are reeling. Those in Texas are among the hardest hit. On Tuesday, they reported 196 children being treated with confirmed COVID-19. That compares with 163 during the previous peak, in December.
At Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the nation’s largest pediatric hospital, the number of youngsters treated for COVID-19 is at an all-time high, said Dr. Jim Versalovic, interim pediatrician-in-chief. In recent weeks, the vast majority have had delta infections, and most patients 12 and up have not had shots, he said.
“It is spreading like wildfire across our communities,” he said.
At times this month, his hospital system has diagnosed 200 children with COVID-19 a day, with about 6% of them needing hospital care. On some days, the number of children in the hospital with COVID-19 has exceeded 45.
Versalovic said he suspects hospitalizations of children are up simply because so many are getting infected, not because the delta variant makes people more seriously ill.
At Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, where Francisco is being treated, the number of patients with COVID-19 climbed from 10 during the week of July 4 to 29 during the week of Aug. 8.
Francisco is improving and expected to recover, but his mother is worried and is considering home-schooling him. The virus “is really dangerous,″ she said.
The delta surge is yet another test for the nation’s schools, which are dealing with students who fell behind academically as a result of remote learning or developed mental health problems from the upheaval.
Outbreaks have already occurred at reopened schools in the South that are facing resistance to mask-wearing.
In Texas, some school administrators are mandating masks in defiance of the governor and state Supreme Court. Among them is Michael Hinojosa of the Dallas school system, one of the state’s largest districts.
“This delta variant is different, and the numbers are really significant in the county,” he said. “We’re going to continue our mask mandate to keep students safe, to keep parents safe, to keep families safe and most importantly our teachers, who are on those front lines.’’
Although dozens of students and staff have already been sickened by the virus since the Dallas district’s 180 schools began reopening on Aug. 5, the numbers are far lower than when in-person learning resumed in the spring, Hinojosa said.
Knowing the toll the pandemic has taken on children, Hinojosa is determined to keep his schools open.
“We know they’ve been scarred by it,” he said. “That’s why they need to be back with their friends and teachers.”
In DeSoto, a Dallas suburb, schools are also requiring masks, and Superintendent D’Andre Weaver said there has been no pushback from parents, perhaps, he added, because many are Black and know their community was hit hard earlier in the pandemic. Some considered keeping their children home because of the governor’s opposition to school mask requirements, Weaver said.
As a parent and an administrator, Weaver said the delta surge “is a major concern, it’s a major frustration. It’s a big fear.”
His own two girls started first and second grade this week, and the first thing he has been asking when he picks them up after school is “How do you feel? Do you have a sore throat?” Weaver said. “I know many parents are in the same boat.”
While he knows many children suffered during virtual learning last year, Weaver said, ‘’We have no choice but to prepare that as an option.’
Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge is set to decide a new sentence Friday for “Tiger Kin…