East Texas pediatricians ‘alarmed’ by number of COVID-19 cases in children

A woman helps put a mask on a child.
A woman helps put a mask on a child.
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 2:45 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2021 at 8:14 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Overwhelmed pediatricians, few hospital rooms for children, and long waits for pre-arranged routine kid exams are all evidence of pediatricians being slammed by a surge of the COVID-19 delta variant. The needs of our youngest East Texans are challenged.

“I would say a small explosion of COVID,” said pediatrician Dr. George Fidone.

According to the Lufkin pediatrician, the assumed highly contagious delta variant is keeping pediatric practices across Deep East Texas busier than anticipated.

“I would say the vast majority of the patients we’re seeing are to rule out covid, to treat for COVID symptoms, or to, at least, test for re-entry into school after having suspected COVID.”

Fidone points out the delta surge began when school started with pre-pandemic rules, that is, no masks.

“That is the cause for most of this disease we’re seeing is freely spreading,” said Fidone.

Yet the spread is attributed to all ages, according to research Dr. Fidone shares.

“It’s the adults who are giving it to the kids, but the kids can then become super spreaders themselves.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics tell doctors infants are the most vulnerable.

“I stay in the house as much as possible,” said Alyssa Mooney, while holding her baby, Brenleigh. “My mom is a nurse and so she has gotten checked. My dad works at a school so he does the same.”

Children with pre-existing conditions are at the highest risk.

“Annaliegh is in second grade and she is just the love of our life,” said her mother Tara Watson-Watkins.

“She is healthy. Knock on wood. She’s an asthmatic though. We worry daily of covid getting her.”

Concerned parents have all kinds of worries.

“The rise of pediatric age patients in the hospitals. That’s the scary part,” said Cookie Johnson, whose son is named Magic.

Nacogdoches pediatrician Dr. Modupe Sokunbi gets it. Her other responsibility is chief of staff at Nacogdoches Medical Center.

“Most of the hospitals are packed full. The other day I called for a hospital admission. I was number seven for one of my patients, I was number seven on the list,” said Sokunbi.

Sokunbi said hospital transfers of young patients have been made as far away as El Paso.

The closest regional children’s hospitals are in Houston and Dallas. They too are very full.

Pediatricians plead not to let one of their patients become a statistic.

“I don’t want them in the ICU. I don’t want to have to beg for a bed or a transport team to come pick them up because they are so sick,” said Dr. Sokunbi.

Pediatricians tell parents early diagnosis is critical. Parents are encouraged to check with their physician as soon as they see symptoms

“We tell parents that all children when at age 5 on, wear masks. They’re effective,” said Fidone, who says there’s no mistake where he stands when it comes to wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

Fidone is waiting for the day where he can recommend a vaccine that’s been approved for children of all ages.

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