MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The Omicron led surge in Shelby County, with new records set left and right Thursday, is increasingly affecting our youngest population: children, especially those under the age of five who aren't eligible to get vaccinated.
More than 400 new pediatric cases were reported Thursday in Shelby County and local doctors are also reporting more kids that are so sick, they're now hospitalized.
It's especially concerning since only one in four children in Shelby County are fully vaccinated and with school returning from holiday break next week.
"This week has been mind blowing, to be honest," Dr. Sweeti Jain at Baptist Children's Hospital ER said.
That's how Dr. Jain described what's she witnessed unfold this month, where kids testing positive for COVID skyrocketed, from 5% to 35% in recent days.
"This has been the biggest surge since this pandemic and in particular for pediatric patients," Dr. Jain added.
Dr. Jain said the surge in more children now infected resulted in a handful that are hospitalized right now at Baptist Children's Hospital.
"They are our most vulnerable populations and we are seeing it with these numbers," Dr. Jain said.
She's especially worried it will get worse next month, with a potential resurgence of spread in the classroom.
"I am very scared, I think we are in a very dangerous situation with schools back up," Dr. Jain said.
That's why staff at Baptist Children's Hospital is preparing and planning for the worst, just in case.
"We are starting to get creative with our space, with our resources, we are already feeling a stress on our healthcare system," Dr. Jain said.
With the highly contagious Omicron variant now the dominant strain in Shelby County, Dr. Jain urged parents to lead by example.
"The important thing we can do is enforce preventative measures, children need to wear tight fitting masks, we need to continue to social distance, we need to continue to wash our hands," Dr. Jain said.
Those at Baptist Children's Hospital said parents need to be especially aware of certain symptoms, including dehydration, shortness of breath and vomiting.