Children's Wisconsin sees increase in number of kids testing positive for COVID

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Doctors at Children's Wisconsin say they're seeing an increase in the number of kids in the hospital who are testing positive for COVID-19 this week. They say as cases from the Omicron variant continue to surge, we must do our part to help kids stay in school. 

According to Michael Gutzeit, MD, chief medical officer at Children’s Wisconsin, "We are seeing an increase in the amount of kids in the hospital who test positive for COVID-19. An average of 20 kids a day at the hospital have COVID-19, surpassing the previous high of 15." 

Dr. Gutzeit went on to say this past week, three kids have needed ventilators for treatment but were all able to recover and go home. He went on to say the numbers seem to be higher than they were at any previous time as far as infectivity rates with kids. 

Kids are not only facing a physical impact from COVID but an emotional, behavioral and social impact as well. 

"We know reading and math levels have decreased. We know that anxiety, depression and suicide rates are up in kids," said Dr. Gutzeit. 

To try and combat these effects, Gutzeit says they would like to keep kids in school whenever possible. This is a strategy health professionals have been focused on since the beginning. 

"The best tools for dong that continue to be washing your hands, wearing a mask, staying home when not feeling well and getting vaccinated when eligible," said Gutzeit. 

But as many schools go back to virtual learning, staying in school seems to be a waning possibility. CBS 58 spoke with Martha Collins, director of advocacy & outreach at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, about her concerns. She says many children depend on going to school to receive meals." 

"Being closed, they don’t have access to them, right -- breakfast, the most important meal of the day, having some food in your belly helps you to learn better. That is a huge problem for the people that we serve," said Collins. 

A solution to this ongoing issue is the Pandemic-EBT program. 

"It's provided to families to help offset the cost of groceries due to school closure because of the pandemic," said Collins. 

To be eligible for Pandemic-EBT students have to meet the following conditions: 

  1. Child is eligible & enrolled for free, reduced-price meals 
  2. School has reduced attendance/hours for five consecutive days
  3. School participates in National School Lunch Program 

"It's one less thing a mom or dad or grandparent or guardian has to worry about in regard to their child," said Collins. 

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