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Doctor Diaries: Pediatric physicians reveal their experiences treating kids with COVID-19

Three doctors from Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital share personal and professional stories from the frontlines.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — No matter how fatigued you are with hearing and talking about the coronavirus pandemic, you can't possibly be as exhausted as the doctors and nurses on the frontlines.

They see this disease in its most dangerous form when they walk into work and see patients lying in hospital beds or being rushed to emergency rooms with dangerous oxygen levels.

While COVID-19 seems to have spared the majority of the pediatric population, doctors at John's Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg continue to treat children with severe cases of the coronavirus.

Two ER physicians, Dr. Meghan Martin and Dr. Ebony Hunter, along with Dr. E. Leila Jerome Clay, director of the hospital's sickle cell program shared their personal experiences on the pediatric frontlines of the pandemic through video diaries.

Dr. Meghan Martin, ER Physician

"I know everyone is sick of wearing their masks, sick of social distancing, nobody wants to hear us talking about it anymore, but it is really important not to get fatigued about it."

Dr. Ebony Hunter, ER Physician

"I will continue to show up to work, continue to do my job, continue to do what I was made to do, which was help take care of people in my community and make sure others are safe."

Dr. E. Leila Jerome Clay, Director of Sickle Cell Program

"Our families have remained stressed and nervous about COVID-19. They know if they do get COVID-19, it will be very different for them because sickle cell is one of these underlying conditions that can be affected a lot worse when you have COVID."

The latest pediatric report from the Florida Department of Health reveals there have been 90,649 cases of the coronavirus in people younger than seventeen, 952 hospitalizations, and nine deaths. 

According to the state's latest report, pediatric percent positivity is 11.9 percent. That means of all the children tested for the coronavirus, 11.9 percent of tests came back positive. The Dec. 1 report for Florida as a whole showed of the 111,627 tests returned from labs, 8.69 percent were positive.

The Florida Department of Health also issues a school report with the number of cases in Florida schools. 10 Tampa Bay reported inconsistencies in the data the state provides versus the numbers reported by local school district dashboards.

For example, at the time of this story, the report issued by the Florida Department of Health shows Newsome High School in Hillsborough County has had 27 cases of the coronavirus. The district dashboard is reporting 60 cases.

Since our reporting, the state has offered a FAQ sheet explaining why there are vast discrepancies between state and local data.

According to the FAQ sheet, the reason for inconsistencies is, "Information reported by the Department regarding positive cases of COVID-19 is based on CLIA-certified laboratory results, all of which must be provided to the DOH immediately upon determination. Please contact school districts for information regarding how they developed their reports."

Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar sent this statement t 10 Tampa Bay regarding data discrepancies.

"The state still is not releasing Covid data for schools on a consistent basis, and because districts were left to fend for themselves, there is a hodgepodge of reporting mechanisms around the state. Some are useful to parents, students and educators, and others are less so. A few districts have simply stopped reporting their cases since the state began sporadically releasing school data. What the data shows unequivocally is that pediatric cases in Florida have skyrocketed since schools reopened. The current seven-day average of new pediatric cases is 871 per day, which is almost twice what the rate was when school campuses first reopened in August."

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