© 2022 KVPR | Valley Public Radio - White Ash Broadcasting, Inc. :: 89.3 Fresno / 89.1 Bakersfield
NPR For Central California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Unlike earlier surges, latest COVID-19 wave is walloping Valley Children’s hospital

Valley Children's

Last week, nearly 450 kids at the hospital tested positive for the virus, but a medical director confirmed the most severe cases were among the unvaccinated.

Thanks to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, new cases in the San Joaquin Valley were being reported earlier this month faster than at any other time during the pandemic. And even though the variant is less severe than previous ones, the sheer number of cases means hospitals are still being overwhelmed – including children’s hospitals.

Valley Children's
Dr. Nael Mhaissen

Just last week at Valley Children’s hospital in Madera, nearly 450 patients tested positive for the virus, representing a positivity rate of nearly 30 percent. Very few required hospitalization for their symptoms, and those patients who did were largely unvaccinated, according to Dr. Nael Mhaissen, Medical Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Valley Children’s. Meanwhile, more than 120 employees remain at home in COVID quarantine or isolation.

In this interview, KVPR’s Kerry Klein spoke with Mhaissen about the COVID outlook among local children, how trends at his hospital reflect what’s happening throughout the region, and what the best strategy is for using those free rapid antigen tests with coughing kids.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.