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‘Protect Your Kids’ Says Wolfson Children’s Hospital Director Following COVID Deaths

Wolfson Children's Hospital
Wolfson Children's Hospital
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Wolfson Children's Hospital

Four children have died from COVID-19 since June at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, according to a hospital spokesperson. Hospital data show 27 children have been admitted to Wolfson so far this week. 

Wolfson Pediatric Specialist Michael Gayle said two children, including a newborn baby, died just this week, according to WJCT News partner News4Jax.

Across Baptist Health’s other four hospitals, adult coronavirus hospitalizations have been steadily decreasing over the past two weeks. But children’s hospitalizations at the hospital chain’s pediatric hospital, Wolfson, have kept climbing. Wednesday marked the highest number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 at Wolfson in more than three weeks. 

Thomas Nakagawa is the medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. He said alongside the surge in kids with COVID-19, there’s also been a surge in the number of children admitted with a disease that follows COVID-19 called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome

“Typically, it occurs anywhere from two to four weeks after that infection has occurred, those kids actually present with inflammation of the hearts, inflammation of other organs in the body,” Nakagawa said. “Those kids can get pretty sick.”

He encouraged parents to take precautions like masking their children, washing hands frequently and getting vaccinations if they’re over the age of 12. 

“It is tough to see all these kids coming into the hospital because we do have preventive measures that can help lessen disease.” Nakagawa said. “Protect your kids, I think that's the most important thing.”

The surge in children’s COVID hospitalizations in Florida, including in Jacksonville, comes amidst an ongoing legal battle over masks in schools. Florida’s Department of Education has withheld funding from two school districts over mask mandates, and threatened to do the same in Duval County. 

In a court order filed in court Thursday, a judge ruled Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Department of Education overstepped their authority by preventing schools from passing mask mandates. The governor has vowed to appeal the ruling. 

There were 255 children hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide Thursday, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. 

Contact Claire Heddles at cheddles@wjct.org, (904) 250 - 0926, or on Twitter at @claireheddles.