More Arizona children are being hospitalized with COVID-19

Juliet, an 8-year-old Buckeye resident, was hospitalized with appendicitis and COVID-19 in November and spent 15 days in Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale. / Courtesy of Banner Health and the Hernandez family

By Stephanie Innes | Arizona Republic

The number of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 has been rising as Arizona hospitals have treated unprecedented levels of COVID-19 patients during the latest surge.

Banner Health, Arizona’s largest health care delivery system, has admitted 795 children ages 18 and younger with confirmed COVID-19 to its hospitals since Oct. 1, with the numbers steadily rising each month.

December’s pediatric COVID-19 admissions in Banner’s Arizona facilities were more than four times higher than the October numbers, according to data provided by the Phoenix-based nonprofit company.

More kids with COVID-19 are being admitted to hospitals in Banner Health’s Arizona facilities than during the first surge, said Dr. David Moromisato, a pediatric critical care medicine specialist and chief medical officer for Banner Desert and Cardon Children’s medical centers in Mesa.

That makes sense, he said, since the volume of adults hospitalized in Arizona for COVID-19 also has been higher during the second surge.

“It has increased exponentially since October,” Moromisato said of the pediatric patients. “Starting in November it just really ramped up  … We want to make the community aware that children are affected and that they can get very sick from it. Even if they don’t, they can also be spreaders.”

In December, Banner admitted 342 pediatric patients with COVID-19-related illness to its Arizona hospitals. In January, Banner officials project that number will increase by 16% to 396. The peak of Arizona’s summer surge occurred in the month of July, when 196 pediatric COVID-19 patients ages 18 and younger were admitted to Banner’s Arizona hospitals, the Banner data shows.

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