More kids in St. Louis County have been hospitalized in January due to COVID than any other month during the pandemic.
The county on Tuesday shared a graph showing pediatric hospital admissions by month, with nine people 18 and younger having been admitted to the hospital with COVID in St. Louis County this month. And January isn't over yet.
The next highest number of hospital admissions per month among kids came in September and May of 2021.
Here's the graph:
This mirrors what's been seen statewide, with the Minnesota Department of Health's weekly COVID-19 report published Jan. 20 showing hospitalizations among kids 18 and under have been climbing in recent weeks amid a surge in cases.
The statewide graph shows hospitalizations among kids 4 and younger, who aren't yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, are at their highest so far during the pandemic, while hospitalizations among 5- to 11-year-olds and 12- to 18-year-olds have also been climbing as of late.
Here's that graph:
Until recently, kids were mostly spared from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic but with the omicron variant's dominance, which has caused cases to skyrocket, more and more kids are getting the virus and ending up in the hospital.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association reports COVID cases among kids have "spiked dramatically" with omicron. Over 1.1 million COVID cases among kids were reported in the week ending Jan. 20, which represents 25.5% of the weekly reported cases.
That's a 17% increase of the 981,000 pediatric cases reported the week ending Jan. 13. and is nearly five times the rate of the peak of the surge last winter.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the seven-day average for new pediatric hospital admissions with COVID was 832 (Jan. 17-23), and the week prior it was 914 (Jan. 10-16), which reflects a pandemic peak.
The AAP looked at 24 states, including Minnesota, and New York City, finding kids made up 1.7-4.4% of total hospitalizations for the week ending Jan. 20, while 0.1-1.5% of all child COVID cases resulted in hospitalization.
The Scientific American looked into why omicron is putting more kids in the hospital, reporting that as more kids get COVID it's natural that more kids end up in the hospital because the risk of hospitalization isn't zero. And, while omicron is still being studied, it seems to have an ability to evade a person's innate immune response.
The publication said:
"In the first waves of the pandemic, kids fared better than adults in large part because children have more robust innate immune systems, which mount rapid initial responses to invading microbes. Adults, in contrast, have better adaptive immune systems, which respond effectively after an infection has begun to take hold in the body."
As more children are ending up in the hospital, St. Louis County health officials encourage families to get eligible children vaccinated and boosted.
"Please wear masks, stay home when sick and get tested so we can protect the youngest members of our community," the county said.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky with the CDC said earlier this month to protect young children who can't be vaccinated it is "critically important that we surround them with people who are vaccinated to provide them protection. This includes at home, at daycare, and preschools and throughout our entire community."