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COVID Is Hitting Children Hard. Ohio's Hospitals Can Hardly Keep Up With It

Paula Grieb,  ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Paula Grieb, ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital in Toledo

Health leaders are beginning school and community leaders to require masks be worn in schools and around kids.

Imagine your child becomes ill or gets hurt. You call an emergency squad. But the ambulance can't take your child to the local children's hospital. That's what really happened in Lucas County Monday night. Paula Grieb with ProMedica Russell J Ebeid Children's Hospital in Toledo says all Lucas County hospitals were on a rescue bypass Monday night.

“That means if a rescue squad was called for a 911 call and needed to pick up a patient and needed to deliver them to a hospital, if that hospital is on bypass, that rescue squad is not allowed to stop at that hospital.”

Grieb says that's unprecedented. She says COVID cases are up considerably and about 2100 kids have tested positive for COVID during the past week.

Dr. Rustin Morse, Nationwide Children's Hospital
Jo Ingles
Dr. Rustin Morse, Nationwide Children's Hospital

Dr. Rustin Morse, Nationwide Children's in Columbus, says doctors there are seeing record volumes of COVID patients too. He says 30 were admitted Tuesday with COVID and 10 children are in intensive care. Dr. Patty Manning Courtney says Cincinnati Children's Hospital is experiencing its highest volumes right now. She says children are twice as likely to test positive for COVID if they are in a partially masked school where only kindergarten through 6 grade masked than if they are in a fully masked school district where all K-12 kids are required to wear masks. In Ohio, only about half of k-12 schools require both students and staff to wear masks.

Gov. Mike DeWine says since the middle of August, nearly 30,000 kids, ages 5 to 17, have tested positive for COVID. He is calling on local school leaders to require masks to be worn inside their buildings. "Every single county is red hot. Some counties are boiling over," DeWine says. He explains he'd like to put a temporary mask mandate in place to require that but says a law recently passed by state lawmakers (SB 22) bars him from doing so. The governor vetoed that bill but his fellow Republicans in the legislature overrode that veto. He said if he tried to issue an order to require students to wear masks temporarily, lawmakers could immediately take action to stop it, thereby causing more confusion.