Two children in ICU battling COVID-19 at Golisano Children's Hospital

Posted at 8:11 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 20:11:02-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee Health says the number of children admitted to their hospitals for COVID-19 has tripled during this wave of the pandemic. They've seen as many as nine children hospitalized with the virus recently - that includes two children who are currently in ICU at Golisano Children's Hospital.

Just days away from a new school year, and many Lee County students are looking forward to getting away from virtual learning, and back into the classroom. But, the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic is still lingering over their heads.

Armando Llechu, Lee Health’s Chief Officer of Hospital Operations says this time with more children getting admitted to Lee Health hospitals.

“I believe the most we had admitted at any one time, was three, and today I believe there are eight. We’ve had as many as nine admitted in the children’s hospital,” he said.

He says those aren’t big numbers, but just to put things into perspective, he says that’s a 300 percent jump in children hospital admissions for COVID-19 compared to the first wave of the virus. The numbers are much higher when you factor in adults.

Overall, within the last month or so, they’ve seen a much steeper increase in hospital admissions.

“If you think back to June 20th, we had about 27 patients admitted in the hospital. That number today is 339. That’s greater than a 1,000% increase,” he said.

Health experts have said school resuming next week could push that number higher and bring Florida closer to a new case peak in just a few weeks. When asked what schools should do, Llechu simply said put safety first.

Rachel: Governor Ron DeSantis has even said that he’ll withhold funding from certain districts if they require mask-wearing. Just seeing the number of hospitalizations that you guys have in your system, do you think requiring masks could help bring down some of these numbers?

Llechu: I don’t want individuals to wear masks because it’s required. I want individuals to wear masks, because it’s the right thing to do for them, for their loved ones, for the community.

Llechu says across Lee Health hospitals, they’re seeing about 300 COVID patients in their emergency rooms per day, where about 30-50 of them need to get admitted for treatment. He says more than 80 percent of those admitted are unvaccinated.

He added hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing and vaccines are still the keys to getting the pandemic under control, again.