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Children's Hospitals Will Fill: State

Respiratory illnesses, along with delta variant, could strain Tennessee system
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2021 5:00 PM CDT
Children's Hospitals Worry State
Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis.   (Getty/C5Media)

(Newser) – Tennessee's health commissioner was clear about which children's hospitals in the state will, at this rate, have no room for new patients by the end of next week. "All of them," Dr. Lisa Piercey said Thursday. Children are showing symptoms more quickly now as the delta variant spreads among them than when the coronavirus first hit, USA Today reports. State data show children 10 and younger account for more than 10% of all new coronavirus cases in Tennessee. The number of teenagers hospitalized also has risen in the past couple of weeks, Piercey said. A health department said 23 pediatric beds in the state are occupied at the moment by coronavirus patients. But it's not just COVID that's filling hospitals.

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There's also an increase in the number of respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus and certain types of flu, that usually happens in winter. "Never in my career have I seen hospitals full in the summer," Piercey said. Many of the coronavirus cases are surfacing in the western part of Tennessee, near Missouri and Arkansas. But the health commissioner expects the surge to be felt across the state soon, per WATN. The head of a hospital system in northeast Tennessee posted, "And children have already died, and others are on ventilators, and ALL OF IT is preventable," in response to Piercey's predictions. "When you combine the unusually high amount of non-summertime infections with the normal summertime admissions that hospitals typically have, plus a shortage in staff," Piercey said, "you really have a situation where you have capacity concerns." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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