PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- With alarming COVID numbers in Arizona comes a rise in child hospitalizations too. A new medical study shows Arizona has seen one of the most significant spikes in COVID pediatric hospitalizations over the past six months in the entire country. Now parents and doctors are speaking out who have lived it.

It was one of the hardest things they've been through as a family. "It's heart-wrenching because there's absolutely nothing you can do as a parent but just sit there and pray and hope and have faith," said Marissa King.

Phoenix Children's Hospital

King's now 13-year-old daughter, Joelle, was hospitalized with COVID-19 and multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) for two weeks in July.

"Joelle has some serious heart damage from COVID," King said. "We don't know if her heart will ever fully recover from it."

Though most children won't be hospitalized from the virus, the numbers are growing, and the medical center seeing that firsthand is Phoenix Children's Hospital.

"In the past, let's say month, has it been the highest amount of COVID patients you have had during the pandemic?" asked reporter Briana Whitney.

"Yeah. And again, that's following what the state is seeing in general," said Dr. Wassim Ballan. Dr. Ballan is the Associate Director for Infection Prevention at Phoenix Children's Hospital and said because Arizona is in the middle of a major COVID surge, childhood cases that require hospitalization are paralleling that.

"Typically, when we're seeing patients admitted to the hospital, there's usually multiple family members at home that are positive at the same time," said Dr. Ballan. "Are we concerned about the situation? Absolutely. There's obviously a lot of alarm with how this situation may evolve."

Arizona near top of list for COVID-19 infections in kids

According to a new study by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), from May 2020 to November 2020, Arizona went from barely having one child hospitalized with the virus per 100,000 people to having about 33 kids hospitalized per 100,000 just six months later, which is a 4,000% increase. Dr. Ballan said it's imperative for all families to help slow the spread in Arizona right now to get these numbers down, but if you're a family with a child in the hospital with COVID right now, Marissa has a message.

"Stay strong; keep the faith. You're not alone," King said.

Dr. Ballan said a piece of positive news is that the kids admitted to Phoenix Children's Hospital for COVID-19 are almost all recovering and able to be discharged. He said parents should look out for breathing trouble or very high fevers with their children when it comes to the virus, and first call your pediatrician for advice on the next step. If things worsen, then come to the hospital.

 

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