RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU warns of a recent spike in respiratory illnesses in children under the age of four years old.
As of Thursday, Oct. 15, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU reported more than 20 patients currently being treated for at least one respiratory virus. David Marcello — the hospital’s Chief of Hospital Medicine — emphasized how rare it was to see these numbers this early in the season.
“They’re more severe infections than we’ve seen in the past,” Marcello said. “We’re only at the beginning of what is traditionally considered peak respiratory virus season.”
VCU Health’s positivity rate for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) rests at 12%, which climbed just above the state of Virginia’s positivity average, which sits at 11.8%.
This influx in cases of bronchiolitis, rhinovirus, and RSV comes as COVID-19 cases decline in the community. Parents tell 8News, they’re exhausted and ready to put medical anxiety behind them. Michael and Tiffany Morgan are parents to young children. They said they’re eager to let their kids go back to being kids and their family has been enjoying life after the peak of COVID-19.
“Our kids are going to birthday parties,” Morgan said. “They’re going to the park, to the mall.”
8News spoke to nearly a dozen parents who all agreed they’re not ready to panic just yet. Morgan hopes these cases of respiratory illness are just a reflection of a typical flu season, reminiscent of the pre-COVID-19 atmosphere.
“We didn’t have a lot of flu [in recent years], because everybody was wearing masks during COVID,” Morgan said. “I think it’s just coming back around.”
Health experts recommend maintaining standard public health guidelines like hand-washing, social distancing, masking up, and keeping kids up-to-date on immunizations. Morgan shared how his family plans to combat respiratory illness this season.
“We’ll probably get the girls a flu shot,” He said. “Just encouraging the kids to wash their hands. We do use hand sanitizer when we leave stores and things.”
Morgan said his family has accepted that sickness is a reality of being a human. Parents across the community tell 8News they also hope to continue to allow their children to live somewhat normal lives this “respiratory illness season,” while adhering to protocol and guidelines endorsed by public health entities and officials, both nationwide and locally.
The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU enumerated key ways members of the Richmond community can protect one another. Representatives say children should have all necessary and recommended vaccinations; people should wash their hands, wear masks, and avoid large crowds whenever possible; mothers should breastfeed infants to provide antibodies against illnesses.
The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts provide vaccination clinics offering COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 bivalent boosters, and flu shots. Community members can find more information at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/richmond-city/