As school begins this week, more children are getting COVID-19 due to the Delta variant. And local hospitals’ pediatric ICUs are filling up.

Only two pediatric ICU beds out of 285 total are available as of Aug. 10 in the 19-county North Texas area. Many of these beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

the delta variant of covid-19 is affecting children. pediatric icus in north texas are dealing with an alarming shortage of beds.
The delta variant of covid-19 is affecting children. Pediatric icus in north texas are dealing with an alarming shortage of beds.

According to Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council president W. Stephen Love, 64 pediatric patients in North Texas are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. This is the highest number of pediatric Covid-19 cases North Texas has ever seen, and it’s due to the Covid-19 Delta variant, which is twice as contagious as previous variants and has an increased risk of hospitalization for unvaccinated individuals.

Because children under 12 can’t be vaccinated, they’re at a high risk of being negatively impacted.

Children’s Medical Center of Plano reports that positive COVID-19 cases rose from 2% the week of July 4 to 10% the week of Aug. 1. The number of hospitalized patients has also risen drastically.

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Data courtesy of children’s medical center of plano

Cases will likely rise with Collin County students going back to school under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that cities can’t mandate masks. However, as of August 11, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins blocked Abbott’s order with his own executive order requiring masks inside businesses and schools. Whether Collin County, or other counties in North Texas, follow suit remains to be determined.

“The medical recommendation is that all of these measures are additive and that masking in an indoor environment will absolutely increase the safety in that environment,” says Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt.

So this back to school season, mask up and stay safe.

Read more about the Delta variant’s impact on Collin County.

The Plano ISD Board of Education is drafting a letter to Gov. Abbott requesting the authority to mandate masks in schools. Read about it here.

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Vaibhavi Hemasundar

Vaibhavi Hemasundar is an undergraduate at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She loves singing, film photography, and devouring book after book.