Number of kids hospitalized with COVID in St. Louis area hits 3-month high


ST. LOUIS — For the first time since the height of the delta variant surge, nearly two dozen children are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the St. Louis area.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported that regional hospitals have seen pediatric ICU cases climb from one child to seven in less than a week. There are also 24 children currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number of pediatric hospitalizations since September.

This comes as several school districts consider implementing a “mask-optional” policy when classes resume after winter break. There is also mounting pressure from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt for schools to remove mask orders.

Dr. Alex Garza, co-leader of the pandemic task force, said he’s frustrated that political voices are spreading misinformation. He said doctors are treating COVID patients who don’t believe in the disease at all.

“We have had patients come into the hospital with COVID, very sick, that still deny that they have COVID,” Garza said. “Then, you’ve got everything in between — people that have been misled by false information on the internet and then now realize, ‘Hey, this is real. I should have gotten vaccinated.'”

Garza said the strain on St. Louis-area hospitals right now is primarily centered on treating very ill, unvaccinated COVID patients.

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