‘Unusual’ uptick in winter respiratory illnesses in children, hospital president says

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The president of OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois said that while COVID-19 cases in children have slightly increased, his main concern is the increase in winter respiratory illnesses like RSV and pneumonia.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children comprise one in every four COVID-19 cases nationally.

Mike Wells, president of OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois, said there has been a slight increase in pediatric COVID-19 cases from one a week, to seven.

Wells said children account for 10% of COVID-19 cases locally, which is much lower than the national average.

“The bigger increase that we’re seeing is in other infectious illnesses. So while we did see this uptick in COVID, the total number is still relatively low,” he said.

He said he is more concerned about the uptick in RSV and pneumonia cases.

“Many more children are in the hospital with RSV pneumonia and other infectious illnesses, and it’s an unusual time for us to see that. Normally we would see that during the winter months, so this is a few months early that we’ve seen this significant increase in RSV and other infectious illness,” he said.

Wells attributed the spike in respiratory illnesses to children returning to daycare and school, and being in close proximity with others.

He reminded everyone to take precautions like washing hands and social distancing to slow the spread.

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