CHRISTIANSTED — Ten people are currently hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the territory’s two main hospitals, officials said this afternoon.
Speaking at the weekly COVID-19 press conference at Government House, Dr. Tai Hunte-Caesar said that seven people are currently in the ICU at the Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas and three people are in the ICU at the Juan F. Luis Hospital in St. Croix.
Hunte-Caesar said that two of the patients at Schneider Hospital are on ventilators and that one of the hospitalized is an infant.
“We are seeing higher rates of COVID among pediatric ages, including newborns infants and toddlers less than five years of age,” Hunte-Caesar said. “This is the part of the population that it unable to be vaccinated — and, are being exposed by their parents most likely.”
“The best protection for these babies is vaccinations among parents and family members. This is a request coming directly from pediatricians in our community. Dr. Thomas I heard you this morning.”
“The nation is seeing record (numbers) of hospitalizations in the pediatric population and so are we. Currently we have an infant hospitalized at RLS for more than one week. We are praying for this baby’s recovery. I’m encouraging the community to use your best judgment now.”
- Limit your exposures
- Wear your mask properly and gently remind others to do the same
- Do not run out for testing unless you develop symptoms
Governor Albert Bryan, also speaking at the press conference, quoted Dr. Anthony Fauci in saying that the best way to track the impact of the Omicron variant is to note the number of people hospitalized.
Fauci said Sunday on ABC News that with many infections causing few or no symptoms, “it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases.” Other experts argue that case counts still have value.
Meanwhile, many on USVI social media focused on the health and well-being of the stricken infant in St. Thomas.
“The older family members need to be vaccinated in order to protect these young children,” Vivian Greaux said. “Don’t allow anyone around your baby if they can’t show a vaccine card.”
“A new COVID-19 variant has been detected in France,” Alicia Ottley-Cobb said. “The variant has been named IHU.”
Are infants and toddlers more at risk from the Omicron variant?
Up until now, COVID-19 has usually caused mild symptoms in very young children. But in South Africa, where the Omicron variant is now the dominant strain, more children under age 2 are being hospitalized than any other age group. We do not know if this means that the Omicron variant causes more serious illness in young kids than previous variants, or whether this is due to other factors in young kids in South Africa. We hope to know more soon.
What’s the best way to protect my child?
The vaccines are still our best protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. If your child is age 5 or older, get their COVID-19 vaccine today – and make sure the other people in your household are vaccinated too.
What if my child isn’t old enough for a COVID-19 vaccine?
Take other available steps to protect them. You know the drill: Make sure every eligible family member is vaccinated. Make sure adults in the family get their booster shot six months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Keep wearing masks for kids over the age of 2, practicing social distancing, and limiting the size of social gatherings. Make sure your child is caught up on other immunizations like the flu shot. And always keep your child home and call a doctor if they might be sick, or if they’ve been exposed to someone who’s infected.
How well do the current COVID-19 vaccines work against the Omicron variant?
Scientists are working to answer this, but the testing process takes a couple weeks. We should know more by mid-December.
There’s a chance the existing COVID-19 vaccines won’t be as good at preventing mild infections from the Omicron variant. But most experts think they should still protect against severe illness and death – the most important role of any vaccine.