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Young COVID-19 patients battling separate respiratory viruses

17 young people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado. Some of them are also battling RSV, a respiratory virus that infects the lungs.

AURORA, Colo. — The vast majority of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Colorado are adults, but doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado worry about an upswing in pediatric patients sick with COVID and other respiratory viruses.

“Just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had children in our ICU who’ve been under two years of age who’ve not only had COVID infection, but they’ve also had RSV and parainfluenza, so it really hits kids hard," said Dr. Chris Nyquist, chief safety and epidemiology officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Nyquist said Colorado's respiratory virus season swung in early, coinciding with the spread of the delta variant.

“COVID plus other viral infections has the potential of making the respiratory disease worse, but it really is everything all at once,” Nyquist said.

At the height of the pandemic, Nyquist said Children's Hospital Colorado had about 20 COVID patients. 

"We have, you know, 10," Nyquist said. "Moderate numbers now, and so we’re not the same as the southern states which are inundated and the pediatric hospitals are full, but we’re next.”

Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday 17 young people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado. Seven of the patients are 10 years old or younger, and 10 patients are between the ages of 11 and 19. 

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As of Thursday afternoon, data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) showed 514 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state of Colorado.

“Kids are not immune to COVID," Nyquist said. "They’re getting sick. They’re getting hospitalized, and they can’t get vaccinated to the large part.”

Nyquist said about 80% of patients at Children's Hospital Colorado are ineligible to receive the vaccine.

"The challenge right now is that we’re not able to cocoon and protect our children," Nyquist said. "Who would I ask to get vaccinated? Those who are eligible for a vaccine, so it’s the parents of the children.”

Nyquist said she wished she could predict what happens next in the pandemic, but she knows Coloradans can help influence COVID case counts and hospitalizations by doing what doctors have preached for months.

"Wearing masks, washing your hands, and getting vaccinated," Nyquist said.

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