In a pediatric intensive care unit, staff work to save critically ill children | USA TODAY

A mother’s plea as her child fights COVID: ‘It’s easy, wear a mask.’
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Early in the pandemic, many of the children who were listed as hospitalized with COVID at this Iowa hospital had come in to be treated for something else and happened to test positive for the coronavirus when they were admitted.

“That’s not the case anymore,” she said. “We have completely healthy children who are not eligible for vaccination yet, getting COVID and being very sick here in the ICU. I think a lot of the population doesn’t realize those things are happening.”

The 28-bed unit cares for many of Iowa’s sickest kids. During a normal autumn, it averages nine empty beds per day, but it has often been full lately. “It has been extremely stressful and emotionally taxing for all of us,” said Dr. Aditya Badheka, the unit’s medical director.

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