LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Doctors said over the last few weeks there has been an increase in the number of children who are seriously sick with COVID-19.

As the natural state continues to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases, children have been even more affected and doctors are offering some guidance. 

“Thanks to the delta variant, it’s a lot more contagious and appears to be infecting children more often than what we were seeing earlier in the pandemic,” Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases for Arkansas Children’s and UAMS, Dr. Jessica Snowden said. 

Arkansas Children’s hospital has 27 COVID-19 patients Monday. 12 are in ICU and 8 are on ventilators.

Last week Arkansas had a third child die from COVID-19z

Dr. Snowden has some advice for those who are heading back to school while there are so many COVID-19 cases in the community.

“Those community measures that we know helped last year in terms of distancing, wearing or masks and washing our hands, so that we can make sure we’re keeping our kids safe,” Dr. Snowden said.

The doctor said parents need to pay attention to potential symptoms and not assume anything.

“Particularly this fall we are going to have lots of things circulating in our community, we know we have RSV, and COVID-19 and other viruses that can cause cold and flu symptoms,” Dr. Snowden said. “So it’s going to be important to pay attention to when our children are developing any symptoms at all and not discounting those.”

She’s also said it’s time for parents to start having conversations with their kids, other parents and their schools about the safety precautions and procedures that are in place for the school year. 

“We have to assume anybody with any kind of upper respiratory infections has COVID-19 until we prove otherwise. That way we can kind of diminish the spread. So if you’re child has cough, trouble breathing, or tells you things start tasting funny, or things don’t smell right. Those are all signs that you should be worried that they’re infected and get them tested,” Dr. Snowden said. 

She also noted you have your child at home until they get tested and receive negative results back. 

Dr. Snowden said everyone has the power to be safe, for example, if there is no mask mandate, you can still just wear a mask.