MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the middle of the holiday season, COVID cases are way up and that includes children.

“What we’ve seen in the children’s hospital with this surge is an enormous number of children coming through our emergency department in particular,” said Dr. Ronald Ford.

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Ford is the chief medical officer at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. He said they’re approaching the same level of positive cases they saw with the delta surge.

“Two weeks ago we were seeing approximately 20 positive cases come through our emergency department.  Now we’re seeing upwards of 50-60 a day. In some cases, we’ve seen well over 400 in the month of December so far, and most of those in the last week,” Dr. Ford said.

One encouraging note, of the children who are testing positive, it’s only a few who require hospitalization.

“The severity of illness is much milder, for instance, than what we saw with the Delta variant. Most of these kids are not requiring hospitalization because they’re sick with COVID,” Dr. Ford said.

At Nicklaus Children’s Hospital the chief medical officer reports they are seeing a rise in the number of hospitalized children with COVID.

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Currently, 14 are hospitalized. Two weeks ago the hospital averaged two to three patients per week.

The hospital says despite the number of kids being treated, the hospitalization rate is not as high as previous strains. They say the increase of kids in the hospital is due to the sheer volume of children testing positive.

And South Florida isn’t alone in the rising cases of pediatric positives. In fact, nationwide hospitals are seeing an average of 260 pediatric COVID hospitalizations a day – that’s up nearly 30% from last week. The advice from the experts is to get your children vaccinated.

“The vaccine is so much safer than getting the virus itself,” said Dr. Sallie Permar from New York Presbyterian Hospital.  “So getting your child the vaccine keeps them safer than letting them get infected with this virus without any immunity from a vaccine.”

Dr. Ford warns now is the time to act – don’t wait.

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“We don’t really know what’s around the corner with this and we expect other variants to come down the pike. Some of those may be more mild, like the omicron variant, and others may be more severe, like we saw with delta,” he said.

Ted Scouten