TWIN FALLS, Idaho — As the Omicron variant continues to spread across the U.S., recent data is showing it's having much more of an impact on younger people with child hospitalizations increasing. While Idaho is fairing off much better than other areas across the country, officials from St. Luke's are still worried about how the variant could affect kids in the state.
“Within the view of the children's hospital and pediatric population, if you look nationally, there is a range between the numbers of in-patients doubling and quadrupling at many facilities,” said Dr. Kenny Bramwell, the Children's System Medical Director for St. Luke's. "Many other facilities aren't necessarily offering numbers, but they're saying this is the busiest they've been in the entire pandemic."
Currently, pediatric patient numbers are manageable throughout most of the state. However, the concern is growing that it could change within the coming weeks.
“Historically, Idaho has been two to five weeks behind other parts of the country," said Bramwell. "I expect that this will happen soon, but it has not happened yet.”
Officials say schools could be a potential hot spot due to many school districts not implementing safety precautions, and because of how contagious the omicron variant is.
“Masks are not required in most of our school districts," said Bramwell. "That’s a concern when you have 20 or 30 kids in a room for six hours together with a very contagious virus.”
To try and limit risk and lessen the chances of potential exposure, health officials are again encouraging people to take safety protocols. This includes masking, social distancing, and for those who are eligible, to receive the vaccine.
“We want to continue to emphasize the importance of vaccines," said Bramwell. "They’ve been shown to be safe, they’ve been shown to be effective, they’ve been shown to be phenomenally helpful in keeping people out of the hospital.”