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How local hospitals are handling an increase in COVID-19 cases among children

The American Academy of Pediatrics says in the past week, nearly 200,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide.

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Cases of COVID-19 among children are on the rise. According to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of new COVID-19 cases in children have climbed 50 percent in the past week.

Mark Bailey, of Dauphin County, has three grandkids and he said they all have become infected with COVID-19. 

"It does surprise me, It does surprise me because it really didn't affect them in the beginning," said Mark Bailey.

Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 7.5 million children have tested positive for the virus, according to the report. This number represents one in 10 children in the country.

"Certainly the rapid spread of omicron surprises all of us and while we fear it would be like this, we hoped it would be different," said Dr. Pia Fenimore, the Chief of General Pediatrics at Lancaster General Hospital.

Health experts said kids easily spread germs. They are constantly touching things around them.

"Kids share everything. How many kids do you know that go to the playground and share a ball. How many kids share pencils, how many kids share desks," said Kay Bleecher, a family nurse practitioner.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported between Dec. 19th and Dec. 26th show an average of 305 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 nationwide.

"The hospitals are overwhelmed. We have canceled all of our surgeries that are not life-saving. We are staffed to the max," Fenimore added.

Students head back to school in early January and, despite the sharp rise in cases, Bailey said he won't force his grandchildren to wear a mask.

"I believe it's a personal choice, I don't agree with mandates. I myself had COVID and I think that's enough for me," Bailey added.

To help the overstrained health care system, Governor Tom Wolf announced that some hospitals will receive federal strike teams to help with critical staffing and pandemic response support.

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