PHOENIX - "Parents, please make good choices to keep your children and the community safe" are the words said by a spokesperson for Banner Health as she says hundreds of children with COVID-19 in Arizona are being admitted into hospitals each month.
In a Twitter thread Sunday, Jan. 17, Becky Armendariz, a public relations specialist for Banner Health, says hundreds of children with COVID-19 are being hospitalized each month and numbers are growing from December and January cases.
She didn't provide specifics on the severity of children's illnesses but calls on parents to make responsible decisions when it comes to the health of their little ones.
Armendariz said she wrote the tweet while looking out the window and watched a youth soccer tournament with "Kids and refs not masked. Parents with masks under chins, chatting/cheering away in close proximity to others."
She shared data by Jama Network showing how pediatric numbers relating to COVID-19 have trended in Arizona. Jama Network looked at trends where children are being diagnosed with COVID-19 in 22 states, including Arizona.
"At the beginning of the study, the average cumulative hospitalization rate per 100 000 children was 2.0, increasing to 17.2 by the end of the study," the study reads.
At the end of the study, Arizona ranked as one of two hot spots for children contracting COVID-19. "Hawaii and New Hampshire had the lowest rates at 4.3 and 3.4 per 100 000 respectively and South Dakota and Arizona had the highest rates at 33.7 and 32.8 per 100 000."
The study looked at numbers between the dates May 15, 2020, and November 15, 2020.
Newborn baby in Arizona contracts serious COVID-19 case
Maria Espinoza says her newborn baby was hospitalized for several days following a COVID-19 diagnosis, and doctors say, unfortunately, more severe child cases are becoming more and more common.
"My heart broke. I cried every day," Espinoza said as her 27-day old baby came down with a high fever, moaning throughout the night, and refusing to sleep.
"I took him to two different hospitals. The first one told me he was just constipated. They said, 'don't worry, take him home.'"
His symptoms continued to worsen. In the middle of the night, Espinoza rushed him to the children's hospital.
"Mother intuition, I was like, 'no, there is something really wrong with my baby,'" she said. Sure enough, there was something wrong. He had COVID-19.
Family physician Dr. Andrew Carroll says the increasing number of children with COVID is "pretty significant," adding, "I know from reports from my pediatric colleagues that they are starting to see their hospitals get pretty overwhelmed with children with COVID."
He believes one of the reasons for the drastic increase in child hospitalizations is due to more and more schools returning to in-person learning and continuing with sports.
One of the other reasons, he says, is the new variants of the virus from the United Kingdom and Africa are spreading more quickly among children.
"When you have something that is just so darn contagious go up by about 50%, those people that thought they couldn't get sick, those people are getting sick now," he explained.
As for Espinoza, she says she knows exactly how her newborn got exposed to COVID-19. On Christmas Day, a relative stopped by who had gotten tested for the virus without telling anyone, they later found out that her test came back positive.
Now, she's issuing a word of caution to others, especially parents, to take this virus seriously.
"If you think you might have COVID, stay home, quarantine yourself. 'Cause my son could have died just for that one person that came over," she said.
Espinoza says she also got COVID-19 from that relative, as did her other two kids. One of them she says had symptoms, the other did not.
Doctors say the virus impacts each child differently.
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