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COVID cases in kids are dropping; doctors feel hopeful

Health experts attribute the falling number of kids' COVID cases to another round of distance learning, masking and fewer get togethers after the holidays.

MINNEAPOLIS — New data shows a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in kids, bringing with it a new sense of hope among doctors that the omicron peak may have passed.

COVID cases among kids first surged in the new year, creating a perfect storm some doctors say is now starting to settle.

"I'm actually quite hopeful because it seems like, at least anecdotally in our clinic, and some of our numbers, we've turned the corner," said Dr. Stacene Marouschek, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Hennepin Healthcare.

Dr. Marouschek attributes the decrease, in part, to another round of distance learning and fewer get togethers after the holidays.

"There are a number of kids who aren’t co-mingling anymore, so it could possibly be related to that," said Dr. Marouschek.

"Hopefully on the back end of this, we can see a decrease that's a little more sustained than we've seen before," said Dr. Sameer Gupta, a pediatric critical care physician and the vice president of medical affairs at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Gupta says continued masking and vaccination would help prolong this downward trend that's been seen in both national and local data.

"We're all holding on to hope for sure," said Dr. Gupta.

The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show cases peaking nationwide for kids 4 and younger Jan. 8 at 684. Two weeks later, that number dropped to 123. 

In Minnesota, while nearly 88% of non-ICU pediatric beds are full, the number that became available more than doubled in just the last three days across the metro region. 

"So what does that mean," asks Dr. Marouschek. "Is it a pause to catch our breath before COVID gives us our next surprise? Anyone knows."

"For right now, I think we just watch it and not worry and again, remain cautiously optimistic that we're nearing some sort of new baseline that’s a lower COVID rate throughout the community," said Dr. Gupta.

The doctors also say the Food and Drug Administration may also approve a three-dose series of vaccines from Pfizer in April for the youngest kids who still aren't eligible.

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