WINCHESTER, Va. — A Frederick County pediatrician said his practice has seen a huge increase in child COVID cases since schools reopened, and he's worried about the repercussions.
“I've never seen anything like this in my 22 years in pediatrics," Dr. Bryan Kornreich said.
Dr. Kornreich, who has a pediatric practice in Winchester, said as soon as schools reopened, they started to see an uptick in parents bringing their kids in with fevers, respiratory illnesses, sick with COVID, and wanting to test for COVID.
“The phones start ringing off the hook as soon as they open up at 7:30 In the morning," the pediatrician said. "My front office staff, who are absolutely wonderful, are doing their best to get people in to be seen, but by 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning, every appointment is booked," he said. "What I really worry about is that there's going to be kids with either COVID or not just regular pediatric illnesses that we're just not going to be able to see.”
He said they're seeing more positive cases now than they did in November 2020 -- before the vaccine was available -- and estimates that his practice, which he said is on the smaller side, is going through up to 100 COVID tests a day.
“I'm worried we're just going to run out of COVID tests, because now the number of tests we're going through a day, it can't be sustained," Kornreich said. "And the manufacturer can't keep up with the demand.”
The doctor said in a few weeks, they might not have enough tests available.
The Virginia Department of Health is also reporting that now young people are being hospitalized at a higher rate than they were earlier in the pandemic.
Dr. Kornreich said the uptick is starting to take a toll on him and his staff.
“My front office staff is exhausted. My nurses are exhausted. We're exhausted," he said. "You know, at the end of the day, people are in tears. It's a mess. It's a real mess. And we just keep going... because I think we're doing, we're doing good for the community. And we're doing good for the world, so we just keep going, plugging away."
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report a few days ago that corroborates what Dr. Kornreich is seeing.
Their data shows that for the week ending on September 2, children made up 26.8% of COVID cases nationally compared to just 15.1% at the start of the pandemic -- a 10% increase.
Kornreich is pleading with the community to help each other -- and them -- by taking the vaccine.
“Please, if you can, get vaccinated -- if you're 12 and over get vaccinated," the doctor said. "It's clear that people who are vaccinated don't get sick at nearly the rate that people who are not vaccinated get sick at. And if we can reduce the amount of transmission in the community, we can reduce the overwhelming number of people that need to seek medical care and reduce the burdens on all the nurses and doctors in the area."
The Virginia Department of Health says that between Jan. 17 and Sept. 4 of this year, unvaccinated people developed COVID-19 at a rate 8.5 times that of fully vaccinated people and 2.4 times that of partially vaccinated people.
Dr. Kornreich said there are other ways to reduce the burden as well, like if schools are able to test kids who even just have a runny nose instead of only full-blown COVID symptoms. He said that would help save those doctor appointments for kids who really need to be seen.
At the end of the day, he said this trend is not sustainable, and again encourages everyone to get vaccinated.