ALABAMA (WHNT) — The COVID-19 situation among children in Alabama is “not good right now.” That’s according to co-director of UAB and Children’s of Alabama’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Dr. David Kimberlin.

On Thursday, Dr. Kimberlin gave an update on the spread of COVID-19 among children and the rise in hospitalizations for that group. Dr. Kimberlin says 56% of children at the emergency department at Children’s of Alabama who are symptomatic and tested, are testing positive. He says just five percent would be considered high, so 56% is “unprecedented.”

Dr. Kimberlin credits the “skyrocketing” COVID-19 case numbers across the state to the Omicron variant, saying the variant “is like nothing I’ve ever seen” in 30 years working in pediatric infectious diseases.

When it comes to hospitalizations, Children’s of Alabama hit a new record number of pediatric COVID-19 patients on Thursday, with 35. On Wednesday, there were 32 positive patients. These numbers are higher than the previous record of 29, set on September 17, 2021. Dr. Kimberlin says pediatric hospitalizations has increased more than three times, in the last three days.

As of Thursday, fewer than five Children’s of Alabama patients were on a ventilator. Dr. Kimberlin says a “silver lining” of the Omicron variant, is that less children are needing a ventilator.

The overall increase in hospitalizations for both adults and children in our state is leading to crowded hospitals and tired staff. Dr. Kimberlin says now is the time to take precautionary measures, to try and decrease the number of people who end up in the hospital with COVID-19. He encourages people to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and to get vaccinated, if eligible.