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Ohio Children's Hospitals Seeing Big Increase In Respiratory Viruses, COVID Cases

Nationwide Childrens Hospital

Doctors with children’s hospitals in Ohio said they are seeing an increase in respiratory viruses at the same time COVID cases are increasing due to the delta variant.

Dr. Michael Forbes with Akron Children’s Hospital said they normally see cases of the dangerous respiratory virus known as RSV in the winter months. But not right now at the end of summer.

“We are usually at less than 1% positivity at this time of year. We’ve been as high as 40% in Akron,” Forbes said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said pediatric hospitals throughout Ohio are also seeing an increase in respiratory illnesses, in addition to COVID right now. Ohio's pediatric hospitals are "pressed," but not having capacity concerns that other states are experiencing, he said.

Dr. Manning Courtney with Cincinnati Children's Hospital said it might have to delay care for some illnesses because of rising COVID cases in the facility.

Children are coming down with COVID plus another virus is making them seriously ill, Vanderhoff said. He also expects COVID cases in children will increase in the coming months.

"It's likely the worst is ahead of us." he said.

Vanderhoff said the best way to prevent the spread of all of the viruses is to wear a mask and, if a child is eligible, they should get a vaccine. Doing so, he said, will make sure Ohio’s hospitals don’t exceed capacity, something that’s happening in some other states right now.

Vanderhoff points out COVID cases in the state are approaching 300 per 100,000, after dipping to under 20 per 100,000 earlier this summer.

Ohio reported 2,775 new COVID cases on Monday, which is above the 21-day average of 2,511 new cases per day.

Vanderhoff said the state hasn't approached the peak of the delta variant and can't predict when that will occur. He said Ohio's case count could be as high as some other states soon if people don't mask, get vaccinated, maintain social distance and wash their hands.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.