As COVID-19 becomes “more rampant and complicated” in children in the United States, politicians in states hardest hit by the virus should be using all of the tools available to them to protect the children rather than banning the protective measures in place, a pediatric airway surgeon has said in an opinion piece for CNN.
Susannah Hills, the pediatric airway surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center, said in the article that some politicians are actively fighting and banning the protective measures authorities have in order to score political points at the expense of the children’s health.
Hills stated that a couple of weeks ago, she was treating a child with respiratory distress. The child had COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus. The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the most prevalent pathogens that cause damage to the airway and lungs in young children.
Hills said: “As a pediatric airway specialist, I always dread RSV season, which typically begins in the fall and early winter. While RSV usually causes cold and flu-like symptoms, it also causes approximately 58,000 hospitalizations and 100 to 500 deaths in the US each year among children under the age of five. This year, RSV is peaking early, and data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been showing a rise in cases across the country since June.”
Because of the increase in RSV, hospitals across the United States are seeing patients with infections of RSV and COVID-19 at once. She pointed out that at Texas Children’s Hospital, there were nearly 30 cases of simultaneous RSV and COVID-19. Also, just a week ago, more than 230 children were hospitalized with COVID, which is the highest number in such population since the pandemic began. RSV cases, on the other hand, are now at 1,600 since June in Texas.
Talking about the politicians banning the measures in place to prevent the spread of deadly virus variants, Hills said that Texas is battling a crisis of pediatric infections because of the “failed leadership” of Governor Greg Abbott as he continues to impose mask mandate and vaccine mandate bans in the state.
Aside from Texas, Hills said Florida is also facing a crisis because of the failed leadership in the state. Governor Ron DeSantis “has been actively fighting public health measures that could provide relief” despite Florida having more cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 than any other state last week. Just like Abbott, he continues to impose mask and vaccine mandate bans.
“Politicians like Abbott and DeSantis don’t know what they are talking about — not when it comes to public health or treatment of infectious disease in children. And when a child is sick with RSV or Covid, or both, no one is going to call them for help,” Hills said.
She concluded that while elected officials fail to protect the health of children, “doctors, nurses and health care providers will stand, and we will care for you and your family.” Hills added that politicians like DeSantis and Abbott should get out of their way to keep their promises to families and children.