DETROIT — Sixty Michigan children are now hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 — a 54% increase since Nov. 3, the state health department reported Wednesday.
"We are a little bit on edge at this point," said Dr. Rudolph Valentini, a pediatric nephrologist at Children's Hospital of Michigan. "We currently are managing. It's absolutely manageable, but ... it appears as though there's trouble around the corner."
The sudden rise in pediatric hospitalizations from the virus is approaching the pandemic peak of 71 set on April 20.
Children's Hospital now is caring for about 10-15 of the kids hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, Valentini said, noting that many of them are sicker than they were in previous surges.
He estimated 30%-50% of them now are so acutely ill, they need treatment in the intensive care unit.
"A fair number of them are requiring ventilation and we have some requiring ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which is heart-lung bypass" device, Valentini said. "The patients that are typically getting admitted are unvaccinated."
He's concerned because pandemic trends appear to be worsening, and that is likely to affect kids, too.
The emergency room at Children's saw an uptick of 60% to 70% in COVID-19-positive patients in the past week, said Valentini, who also is the group chief medical officer for the Detroit Medical Center.
"Usually, the positive tests are a leading indicator," he said. "They precede hospitalizations and then hospitalizations usually precede ICU admissions."
After that, deaths typically rise, too. While kids are far less likely to get severely ill from the virus or die, it can happen. Since the pandemic began, 23 Michigan children have died from COVID-19, according to the state health department.