Local hospitals are seeing a spike in child hospitalizations from COVID-19 and a record number of patients testing positive.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Local hospitals are seeing a spike in child hospitalizations from COVID-19 and a record number of patients testing positive.

With the children’s Gasparilla parade just three days away, doctors are asking parents to take precautions.

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In just a few days, one of the largest events for children the Ashley Children’s Gasparilla Parade will make it’s way down Bayshore Boulevard and doctors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital says if you child isn’t vaccinated you may want to consider having them wear a mask.

Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Dr. Allison Messina says “We had last week about 300 patients diagnosed COVID-positive at our institution.”

Dr. Messina says the hospital is seeing a record number of children with COVID-19.

“Before Christmas we were sort of in a lull, we were seeing maybe six patients a week that we were diagnosing with COVID…so we went from six to almost 300,” said Dr. Messina.

She says 25 of those children are hospitalized and half are in the intensive care unit.

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“With this much disease in the community, I think it is inevitable that we are going to see those severe cases,” said Dr. Messina.

Children aren’t the only ones testing positive at the hospital, so are doctors, nurses and other staff members.

“If you have an open bed and you don’t have a nurse to care for a patient in that bed, that’s not really an open bed,” said Dr. Messina.

Dr. Messina says employees are working extra shifts to cover the gap, but another worrying subject is the Ashley Children’s Gasparilla Parade happening this Saturday.

“It is concerning that it is going to be very crowded, and when people are so close together that risk of transmission spreads,” said Dr. Messina.

She says we could see a spike in children testing positive after the weekend of events, so if parents are taking their children, masking up could be a good option.
In the meantime, Dr. Messina is working as hard as she can to treat patients who walk through the hospital doors.

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“It will be very helpful to see those rates go down in the community and see our staff come back healthy,” said Dr. Messina.