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‘Protect Your Kids,’ Wolfson Children’s ICU Director Says After COVID Deaths

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Wolfson Children's Hospital
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The medical director of the pediatric ICU at the Jacksonville hospital said that along with the COVID surge in kids there’s been a rise in the number of children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

Four children have died from COVID-19 since June at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, according to a hospital spokesperson. Hospital data show 27 children were admitted to Wolfson in the past week.

Wolfson pediatric critical care specialist Dr. Michael Gayle said two children, including a newborn, died with the illness this past week, according to WJCT News partner News4Jax.

Wolfson is part of Baptist Health System in the Jacksonville region. Across the system’s other four hospitals, adult coronavirus hospitalizations have been steadily decreasing over the past two weeks. But children’s hospitalizations at Wolfson have kept climbing. Wednesday marked the highest number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 at Wolfson in more than three weeks. 

Dr. Thomas Nakagawa, medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson, said alongside the surge in kids with COVID-19, there’s also been a surge in the number of children admitted with a disease that follows COVID-19, multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

“Typically, it occurs anywhere from two to four weeks after that infection has occurred; those kids actually present with inflammation of the hearts, inflammation of other organs in the body,” Nakagawa said. “Those kids can get pretty sick.”

He encouraged parents to take precautions like masking children, washing hands frequently and getting vaccinations if their children are 12 or older.

“It is tough to see all these kids coming into the hospital because we do have preventive measures that can help lessen disease.” Nakagawa said. “Protect your kids, I think that's the most important thing.”

Contact Claire Heddles at, (904) 250 - 0926, or on Twitter at @claireheddles.

Copyright 2021 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Claire Heddles
Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting.