An 11-month-old baby with COVID-19 had to be flown more than 150 miles to a hospital in Temple, Texas, because no pediatric hospitals in Houston could accept her.
Video provided by Harris Health Systems to local TV station KTRK shows the baby girl being transported by air ambulance because there were no beds available in her hometown of Houston.
“She needed to be intubated immediately because she was having seizures,” said Patricia Darnauer, administrator for Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. “We looked at all five major pediatric hospital groups and none [had beds] available.”
Officials across the U.S. are warning that the Delta variant is resulting in more children being treated for severe COVID symptoms, with many hospitals saying they are struggling to cope with the influx of new coronavirus patents of all ages.
Dr. Christina Propst, a pediatrician in Houston, told KTRK: “The emergency rooms at the major children’s hospitals here in Houston, the largest medical center in the world, are extremely crowded.
“They are filling, if not full, as are the hospitals and intensive care units.”
The lack of pediatric beds in Houston may not be solely attributable to a surge in COVID cases, according to Propst and other medical providers.
Other factors include an uptick in children being admitted with injuries such as broken bones, which typically happens during the summer break. Toward the end of the vacation, back-to-school health checks increase too. Houston has also reported a rise in respiratory syncytial virus infections among children.
Medical experts are concerned, however, that the surge in COVID cases will worsen when children return to school, especially if they do not wear masks.
“It is typical that two weeks after school we see a great surge of strep and other sources of infection. We are bracing ourselves, not a question of when, it will be bad,” Darnauer said.
Propst added: “If children are not masking in schools, it will be a major problem.”
Elsewhere, officials in Mississippi have said hospitals are struggling with the COVID surge to such an extent that there were just six intensive care beds available across the state on Wednesday.
In Tennessee, medical professionals are urging parents to get their children vaccinated after two children died from COVID in one weekend at Le Bonheur children’s hospital in Memphis.
“What we have seen over the last week and a half is that kids are actually coming in with pretty severe COVID symptoms. Respiratory symptoms and things of that nature,” Dr. Nick Hysmith, medical director of infection prevention at Le Bonheur, told WREG.
“If your child is 12 or over, please get your child vaccinated. We are seeing really sick kids, and I think that’s the best way to protect your children.”