AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Local health officials said earlier this week that the Delta variant is leading to more coronavirus hospitalizations among younger people, including kids.
Amarillo Public Health Authority, Dr. Todd Bell, said hospitals have seen more pediatric disease with this round of COVID than in the past.
“I don’t think that that means that children are necessarily at greater risk than adults are. It’s just that this variant is an equal opportunity infector. It is infecting everybody, regardless of age,” Dr. Bell said on Wednesday. “Whereas the original COVID seemed to primarily cause more severe disease in the elderly.”
Dr. Bell said our elderly population has done a good job of getting vaccinated, and that is helping to protect them during this surge in cases.
Now, the patients they are seeing are younger, Dr. Bell said, noting that he saw five relatively young COVID patients Wednesday morning.
“Back last year, I would have been really surprised to have seen them in November, because they were all too young to really be sick,” he continued. “Now, that’s kind of who the typical patient is that we’re seeing.”
Dr. Bell said while there is more pediatric disease than they saw earlier in the year, good news remains for many of those children.
“Kids, for the most part, get over this and don’t have any long term problems or complications, as far as we know from long term, and are less likely to end up in the hospital than an adult would be,” Dr. Bell said.
However, with school starting in three weeks, Dr. Bell expects to see cases rise even more.
“What we would anticipate is that as we get more children, more adults, more people coming together, that that’s going to increase our rates of transmission,” he said. “Are we going to have an increase after school starts? Almost certainly. How much of an increase depends on what we as a community do to try to mitigate the spread of the virus.
He said those efforts to slow the spread include vaccinations, masking, and distancing.
“We owe it to our community, we owe it to our children, and we owe it to ourselves to be using all the tools that are available to us,” said Dr. Bell.