From babies to teenagers, this hospital is full of youth

Her mother, Gaviel Goff, is struggling to talk.

“It’s really scary,” Goff said, trying to suppress the tears.

At the same time, 17-year-old Hailey Mulanex is fighting Kovid-19 on a ventilator in a hospital in Houston. She never saw her 3-week-old baby as she has been in a medically induced coma for almost a month.

Across the country, hospitals are grappling with an unprecedented surge of children with Covid-19 – fueled by holiday celebrations and the highly contagious Delta and Omicron variants.
Last week, an average of 574 children with Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals every day – a pandemic record, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And one doctor worries “we could see more children hospitalized in a very short period of time.”

A teenager in a coma remembers the birth of her child

Hailey Mulanex was 16 years old and pregnant when she fell ill with COVID-19.

Hallie spent her 17th birthday in a medically induced coma.

What she doesn’t know is that her daughter, Xelah, was to give birth 10 weeks early.

Haley’s mother, Amy Woodruff, said the family’s Covid-19 test had been a “mess”.

Woodruff said, “Our COVID journey began… November 29. Both my daughter and I tested positive for COVID.”

No evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility nor puberty

While Woodruff did well with her illness, her teenage daughter did not.

Hailey was hospitalized in Amarillo and had to be put on a ventilator.

Woodruff said that at week 29 of pregnancy, “she couldn’t breathe.” “Her oxygen level was too low – not enough to support the baby.”

So while in a medically induced coma, Hailey had a caesarean section and gave birth to Xylah on December 9.

He weighed 3 pounds and 6 ounces. Miraculously, his grandmother said, the child did not have Covid-19.

Woodruff said she didn’t know how she would break the news that Hailey missed her daughter’s birth and the first several weeks of life.

“I’m a mom. I can’t imagine. And she’s my little girl who is far from our little girl,” Woodruff said. “My heart bleeds for him.”

Nurse creates a baby registry for a new father after his unrelated wife's death from COVID-19, before visiting his baby

While Xyllah stayed at an Amarillo hospital, her mother was taken to Texas Children’s in Houston, 900 miles away.

“The mother’s condition was so bad, she couldn’t afford all the treatments the mother needed while the baby was still there”, Woodruff said.

Woodruff said Hailey had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 – largely because she was concerned about how the vaccine might affect her child.

But now, Woodruff said she would encourage her loved ones to get vaccinated.

“Whoever I love, I will wish for them,” she said.

‘I didn’t expect covid’

The mother of 4-month-old Grayson Perry said she was concerned that her baby might need intubation.

Gaviel Goff never imagined that any of his children – a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 4-month-old – could get sick with COVID-19.

“They barely even catch colds,” Goff said. “Some people may find it hard to believe. But my kids don’t actually get sick.”

Children under 5 still waiting for COVID-19 vaccines

When 4-month-old Graysen got Covid-19, a lot changed. He is now hospitalized at Texas Children’s, the largest pediatric hospital in the country. And Goff fears he’ll be put on a ventilator.

“I didn’t expect Covid,” said the 24-year-old mother.

“Since I was pregnant with him, I stayed home. I went to doctor’s appointments. Maybe to the grocery store when I really had to go to the grocery store. But other than that, I didn’t go anywhere,” she said.

But Goff said he has not been vaccinated for COVID-19. She said she believed Graysen became ill with Covid-19 after the Christmas gathering.

Now, Goff said she’s “really thinking” about getting vaccinated.

‘Unprecedented number of children getting infected’

In just two weeks, the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 at Texas Children’s has quadrupled.

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Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s, said, and the increase will get worse with the spread of the Omicron variant.

“This is by far the king of the infectious COVID virus. And we’re seeing unprecedented numbers of children getting infected and going to children’s hospitals,” Hotez said.

On top of that, “we’ve done a terrific job of vaccinating our kids across the country,” he said.

Dr. Melanie Kitagawa, the hospital’s transitional ICU medical director, said, “Among the hospitalized Covid-19 patients at Texas Children’s, “they are having a lot of respiratory symptoms … pneumonia, respiration to help them breathe better.” Help is needed.”

While early studies suggest that Omicron causes less severe disease than the delta version, Omicron is much more contagious.

And that means more children could be hospitalized, said Dr. Jim Versalovic, pathologist-in-chief of Texas Children’s.

“The problem is that with so many children and adults getting infected, even if the hospitalization rate is low, we could see more children being hospitalized in a very short period of time,” he said. “And it certainly puts a strain on our health care resources.”

CNN’s Bonnie Kapp and Michelle Krupa contributed to this report.


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