Registered Nurse Taylor Curtis cares for patient Avery Mitchell in the PICU of the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Towers at Children's of Mississippi. Credit: University of Mississippi Medical Center Communications

A 23-week pregnant mother, recently diagnosed with COVID-19, died before her baby could be delivered. A COVID-positive 5-week-old was admitted to the hospital. A 5-year-old was in and out of consciousness at Children’s of Mississippi.

This was everything on Dr. Anita Henderson’s plate on just one day in mid-August as the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to rip through the state. Henderson, a Hattiesburg pediatrician, joined Mississippi Today’s The Other Side podcast this week to discuss the rise of COVID-19 in children.

“Our adults and our elderly were our focus last year. Nursing homes were a concern last year,” Henderson said. “But now with the Delta wave with this Delta variant, the kids are where we should be focusing our efforts and our energy. They must be our priority because COVID is running wild through the school system and through our children.”

While physicians are unsure whether the delta variant is more virulent or causes more severe illness in children, they are sure of this: There is far, far more of it. And the data bears that out. 

READ MORE: COVID-19 cases in children rapidly increasing in Mississippi

A Mississippi Today analysis last week shows an 830% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in children for the first two weeks of school in 2021 compared to the first two weeks this data was reported last August.

Children’s of Mississippi saw its largest number of children hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 on Aug. 19, with 28 children requiring hospital care. Eight of those were in the intensive care unit.

“To be honest right now, we’ve got a runaway train in our state in terms of children,” Henderson said. “We have one pediatric children’s hospital in our state. We have one pediatric ICU, and it is overwhelmed. So we are just asking people to do everything in their power to put kids first, to do what’s right for the children, to get them safely in school and to get them safely through this delta wave.”

LISTEN: Dr. Anita Henderson’s full podcast episode.

VIEW OUR COVID-19 DATA & RESOURCES


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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.