Uptick of pediatric respiratory illness, family shares story

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs family is sharing their experience with a toddler who battled COVID-19 as Children’s Hospital Colorado says they’re experiencing an increase in overall patient volume and pediatric intensive care unit cases.

“She is normally so full of life, fun and happy. And for that whole time she was just exhausted, working hard to breathe,” Tiffany Pittman said.

In early August, Pittman’s 2-year-old daughter, Cecilia, tested positive for COVID-19.

“We don’t have any confirmed contacts, so we’re not sure [how she contracted COVID-19]. All the adults she was with are vaccinated, so it’s hard to say,” the mother said.

Cecilia was treated for about a week at Children’s Hospital Colorado with oxygen, IV fluids and steroids.

The toddler is far from the only pediatric case the hospital system has treated lately.

Children’s Hospital Colorado reports a 20% increase in their overall inpatient volume for this time of year. They also report PICU volumes are running 60% higher than normal.

In a press release, Children’s Colorado said, “Emergency departments are operating at 20% to 50% increased volumes depending on location.”

Children’s Colorado wrote that the influx is a result of COVID-19 and another respiratory illness, respiratory syncytial virus.

The ongoing circumstances have prompted Children’s Colorado to encourage mask wearing in schools.

The release said, in part:

With climbing COVID-19 numbers and an early respiratory season beginning before kids have even returned to school, Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) says it is more important than ever to keep up the basic prevention efforts that keep us all healthy and safe. That’s why they are strongly encouraging state and local officials, school leaders and parents alike to take action to protect their children mentally and physically. Throughout the pandemic, Children’s Colorado medical experts consistently said that the best way to protect ourselves and others is by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing. Because kids under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine and only 41% of Colorado adolescents and young adults ages 12 to 20 have been vaccinated, they are voicing support for masking in all Colorado schools and childcare settings for all children and personnel. Additionally, they state that if made a policy at schools, masking would remove uncertainty, which poses an additional source of anxiety, isolation and further reduces the potential for bullying.

Pittman hoped her daughter’s experiences would encourage other parents to take precautions.

“We wanted to share our story because we’re hoping that people will at least consider getting vaccinated, if not for themselves, for our young children who can’t,” Pittman said.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told Denver7 there have been 13 deaths of those ranging in age from infancy to 19 years old. In six of those deaths, COVID-19 was identified as the principal or underlying cause. In seven of the cases, COVID-19 was identified as a significant contributing factor.