ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. - Orange County has extended its state of emergency due to the increase in respiratory illnesses sending more and more children to local pediatric hospitals.
This comes at the same time officials are seeing a rise in COVID and flu cases statewide, leading to record numbers.
Children's Hospital of Orange County is currently seeing on average 400 emergency room visits a day - that's more than double the usual amount. CHOC is so overwhelmed it has extended its emergency room into part of a driveway to help accommodate patients. But there are so many people coming in that at times pediatric patients are being sent to adult hospitals for treatment.
The extension of the health emergency through January allows hospitals to get medications more easily and approval to convert parts of the hospital as needed to accommodate pediatric patients.
"The reality is that RSV for most kids will cause an inconvenience of a cold … certainly if that’s all it were, we would be a lot less concerned," said Secretary of the state’s Health and Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly, at a news briefing earlier this month.
Officials said during the height of the pandemic, levels were low due to masking and social distancing guidelines, but now because both have eased cases are increasing.
Things are getting so dire that the American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency over RSV.
Additionally, medications like ibuprofen, albuterol, and tamiflu are all in short supply nationwide. Johnson and Johnson recently issued a statement saying there has been high consumer demand and they are doing everything to make sure people have access to the medications they need.
Right now officials are already seeing respiratory illnesses up 25% - and January and February is typically when the highest numbers are seen.