DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Leaders of Ohio’s pediatric hospitals say the hospital systems are feeling the strain of more children hospitalized with COVID-19 and staffing shortages.

The statewide COVID-19 positivity rate for kids is over 10% and across Ohio 70 children are hospitalized for COVID-19, close to all of them are either unvaccinated or ineligible.

“We are in a perfect storm, with COVID, with respiratory disease, mental health issues, all of these things combined this time of year are putting a significant strain on our hospital systems,” said Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

At Dayton Children’s Hospital, 13 children are hospitalized and nearly 40 percent are in the ICU. That compares to just one or two children hospitalized at the beginning of August.

“However you slice it, that is a 5-to-10-fold increase in the number of hospitalized children affected by COVID,” said Dr. Adam Mezoff, chief medical officer and vice president of Dayton Children’s.

Health officials said the delta variant is different from the first two waves of the virus.

“If you were a kid who contracted COVID, it was largely because you had a condition that made you immunocompromised and more susceptible to contracting the virus. In 2021, that is absolutely not the case,” said Tim Robinson, CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

COVID-19 is now sending more children to the hospital and ICU, filling up waiting rooms and hospital beds.

Additionally, staffing shortages are putting an even greater strain on these hospitals.

“We’ve pulled out all the levers, all of us are incentivizing our staff, but frankly, they’re getting tired, and partly they’re tired because we’re not using all the tools available to us to limit the number of kids that have to get sick with all of these things,” Mezoff said.

Right now these pediatric hospitals have not had to limit services, but are concerned that nonessential procedures may have to be delayed if hospitalizations continue to increase.