Ohio experts concerned over growing impact of Delta variant on kids

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Infectious disease doctors at hospitals across the state of Ohio are becoming increasingly concerned over the growing impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant on kids.

Dr. Claudia Hoyen, Director of Infectious Control at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said it’s very different than previous variants.

“It’s not the elderly this time. It’s the children,” said Hoyen, “Things are certainly starting to increase in terms of the number of kids that we’re seeing.”

In May, the Delta variant was spreading at about 1-2% in Northeast Ohio, according to Hoyen. Now, in August, it’s spreading at 90% across the state.

“We’ve certainly heard from colleagues within the state of Ohio that in the last several weeks, there’ve been kids who needed life support,” said Hoyen.

Other states are reporting similar cases too.

At a press conference Friday, Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said, “This is a bad virus that can cause otherwise healthy children to develop a multi-system inflammatory condition that makes them very sick.”

Hoyen believes there are a number of factors causing the surge, including a lot more exposure among young people right now because it’s summer and most children aren’t able to be vaccinated.

However, she pointed out that the variant has affected both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“We know that people who are vaccinated can have high levels of the Delta variant in their nose and throat and spread it to others, made apparent by the outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where 900 people became positive and 75% were vaccinated,” said Hoyen.

Despite that, she still recommends those eligible and able to receive the shot get it because she says the illness is less severe in the vaccinated.

She also highly recommends that people of all ages follow the recent CDC guidance for everyone to resume masking regardless of vaccination status. 

“To say look, even if you’re vaccinated, we need you to be wearing masks because what we have to do, is not spread it to those who can’t be vaccinated and right now the majority are children,” said Hoyen.

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