COVID-19 · Fresno · Madera

Two weeks later, are kids flooding Valley hospitals with COVID-19?

Just as a growing share of Valley school districts were bringing their students back into the classroom full-time for the first time since 2019, school boards, administrators faced questions of how the spread of the Delta variant would impact kids and school-day operations.

Those issues – particularly how to handle outbreaks on campus – remain an ever-evolving problem in search of solutions for many districts.

As pre-back-to-school debates over mask requirements raged, one school district, Clovis Unified, was confronted with a scathing retort from Valley Children’s Healthcare – the region’s largest pediatrics medical provider – ratcheting worries about the health impacts of the coronavirus variant on kids.

Shortly after the letter was tendered to officials with Clovis Unified, The Sun obtained an internal memorandum from the Fresno County Department of Public Health breaking down pediatric hospitalizations in Fresno and Madera County facilities.

At the time, few children were reported being hospitalized on a day-by-day basis or seven-day rolling average.

Two weeks later, where do things stand?

Data from Fresno County Public Health shows that things, while changing, are not escalating to levels worried by health experts.

The dataset, which concluded on Aug. 19, finds that the number of hospitalizations has ticked up over the past two weeks.

Hospitals in the two counties saw their highest single-day hospital admittance for pediatrics patients on Aug. 19, with 11 non-ICU hospitalizations. That single-day high dates back to July.

The most recent seven-day rolling average on hospitalizations, meanwhile, increased minimally from five to seven patients.

As for intensive care unit impact, the highest single-day count of pediatric ICU patients with coronavirus was three patients.

The single-day high of three pediatric ICU stays across the six major hospitals in the two counties has occurred five times in the month of August – Aug. 6 and Aug. 15-18.

The rolling seven-day average concluding on Aug. 19? Two average pediatric ICU stays across six hospitals, up from one average ICU stay in the county’s Aug. 10 report.

County officials note that the data for the hospitals, particularly Valley Children’s, may reflect residents of other San Joaquin Valley counties, not just Fresno and Madera county residents.

Fresno County officials reported the seven-day rolling average, concluding on Aug. 17, for pediatric coronavirus cases of its own residents sits at 13.

By comparison, the seven-day rolling average of coronavirus cases on Aug. 10 – the date of the internal memo obtained by The Sun – sat at 69 cases.

Fresno County has defined pediatric cases as individuals aged 19 and below.

Valley residents ages 12 and older are currently eligible for vaccination under emergency use authority from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is fully authorized for all patients aged 16 and older.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.