Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations low in Duval County, opposite of national trend

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On January 4, 2022 – exactly one week from today – students in Duval County will return to the classroom.

This comes as hospitals nationwide are starting to treat more children for COVID-19.

According to the latest data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is now an average of 260 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States each day.

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That is in an increase of at least 30% compared to last week’s data.

According to the latest, weekly COVID-19 report from the Florida Department of Health, case count is on the rise in children aged 5 and older.

But in Duval County, pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole has been checking in with our local hospitals regarding COVID-19 case numbers regularly.

At Wolfson Children’s Hospital, a spokeswoman told Action News Jax they currently have three pediatric COVID-19 cases. (For context, that is an increase by one case since last week.)

Five-year-old Howard is ready to get back to pre-k and all of his friends next week.

But with pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise nationwide, his mother Lacatia has concerns.

“We just try our best to stay safe and wear face masks and wash our hands constantly,” Lacatia explained to Cole.

Charts from the latest COVID-19 Weekly Report from the Florida Department of Health show the case count on the rise.

The teal line on each respective chart represents the weekly case count. You can see cases begin to take a turn upward, rising above the December 10, 2021, mark.

Dr. Michelle Aquino, our Action News Jax Medical Expert, said COVID-19 numbers across the five Baptist Health Hospital system hospitals, including Wolfson Children’s Hospital, have not surged at all over the last few weeks.

“So right now in Duval County, we aren’t seeing a huge surge in hospitalizations for adults or children. That’s very important to stress,” said Dr. Aquino.

Dr. Aquino has years of experience in Osteopathic and Internal Medicine, as well treating COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.

She said we need to look at New York and their pediatric hospitalization increase and realize that could be us soon... if we aren’t cautious.

According to CBS News, health officials say pediatric hospitalizations in New York City rose nearly five-fold this month. They say almost all of those children were unvaccinated.

“For parents right now, number one: if your kid is 5 or older, start the vaccination process if they have not been vaccinated. Number one, okay? They are definitely going to (be) safer vaccinated than not vaccinated,” said Dr. Aquino.

According to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health:

  • 14% of children aged 5–11 are vaccinated
  • 58% of children aged 12–19 are vaccinated

Lacatia said her son is vaccinated. Now she is just working on creative ways to encourage him to keep his mask on, especially around his friends.

“It’s more like we say, ‘Come on, let’s go dress up like a ninja!’ So, it kind of helps!” she laughs.

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“When he gets with the other little kids he’s like, ‘Oh, I have to take this off and I just wanna play.’ It’s just making sure he knows that he has to stay as safe as possible,” said Lacatia.