Vehicles line up outside of a COVID-19 testing site at the Mount Olympus Senior Center in Millcreek on Tuesday.
While doctors acknowledge COVID-19 usually causes minor symptoms in children, officials at Primary Children’s Hospital say they’re grappling with an influx of patients with coronavirus and other respiratory infections. ( Kristin
Murphy, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — While doctors acknowledge COVID-19 usually causes minor symptoms in children, officials at Primary Children’s Hospital say they’re grappling with an influx of patients with coronavirus and other respiratory infections — often at the same time.
A teenage patient died at the hospital last week due to COVID-19.
“It was absolutely devastating on the staff here,” Dr. Andrew Pavia said Thursday during a news conference.
According to the pediatric infectious disease expert and Primary Children’s director of hospital epidemiology, children’s hospitals nationally — including Utah’s only children’s hospital — are “filled to the brim” and functioning in a most extreme surge capacity. That includes placing two children in each room and canceling important surgeries to make space in the intensive care unit, Pavia said.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Utah health officials reported 2,165 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths.
School-age children accounted for 544 of the cases — 231 of the cases were ages 5-10, 152 cases were 11-13, and 161 cases were 14-17, according to the Utah Department of Health.
The rolling, seven-day average for new cases stands at 1,431 per day, and the percent positivity rate of those tested is 12.3%.
The strain at Primary Children’s Hospital isn’t due to COVID-19 itself, but a combination of it with seasonal RSV and trauma cases. Coronavirus is the “straw that’s breaking the camel’s back in the health care system,” Pavia said.
Jacob Ferrin, a registered nurse in the pediatric ICU at Primary Children’s Hospital, noted that the regional hospital is considered a “last line of defense” for kids not only in the Beehive State but between Denver to Los Angeles and Phoenix to Canada.
With adult critical cases, it’s often due to age-related health issues, Ferrin said. But for children, something is either “built wrong” or something happened to them to put them more at risk.
Children at the hospital with inflammation due to other viruses are sometimes contracting COVID-19 as well, prolonging their critical care stays, Ferrin said.
“When kids have that much inflammation going through their body, everything hurts. Their eyes can get really red, it hurts when you touch their arm,” he said.
This story will be updated.