NCH sees record number of pediatric COVID cases

Published: January 4, 2022 4:30 PM EST
Updated: January 5, 2022 12:40 PM EST

A Southwest Florida hospital’s emergency room is seeing an alarming trend in kids just as they return to school. NCH saw its highest number of pediatric COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

So, many parents wonder if the increase in child COVID-19 cases will impact COVID policies in schools. WINK News reporter Rachel Cox-Rosen spoke to a representative with Collier County schools. They said the district would double down on the policies that are already in place and hope for the best.

More and more kids are heading to NCH emergency rooms with COVID-19. Dr. David Lindner is the medical director for COVID-19 at NCH. “So, pediatric, you know, evaluations, particularly in the ER and all, it has markedly elevated,” Dr. Lindner said. 

Last week, there were 113 pediatric COVID-19 patients. That is the highest number since the onset of the pandemic.

And it’s happening right as children head back to school in Collier County after winter break. Dr. Lindner has a prediction. “I anticipate that we’re going to see significant outbreaks within classrooms, and basically educators,” said Lindner. “But the concern could be that the district would have a difficult time, basically, meeting their mission of education because they may have too many people out sick.”

So many parents, like Humberto Izquierdo, are getting in line to get their kids tested. Izquierdo wants to make sure he doesn’t send his kids to school sick. “Because my kids start tomorrow with school, and we need to make sure everybody’s fine,” said Izquierdo.

Jose Castillo says his family has traveled recently, so he wants to be safe. “And we were traveling so, it’s best just to make sure that we are all safe before the kids head back to school,” Castillo said.

Collier County Public Schools sent an email to parents on Sunday night to let them know the district is consulting with the Florida Department of Health in Collier County. However, the district did not put any new COVID-19 protocols into place.

Chad Oliver is the executive director of communications for Collier County Public Schools. “We talked about the spike, the surge in cases, talked about the precautions that we’re going to put in place and keep in place because it really… it’s about continuing what’s being done maintaining,” Oliver said.

Oliver says these protocols include kids social distancing while at lunch, allowing visitors and volunteers on campus for academic purposes, and trying their best to create space between students and staff in hallways. The district also highly recommends masks but they are not required. Instead, they remain optional.