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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The number of patients currently receiving treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital remains high, as doctors say they are testing more kids than ever before for COVID-19.

Doctors say they are bracing themselves for even more COVID-19 cases.

Nationwide the number of children in the hospital with COVID-19 has jumped sharply since July, with Children’s Mercy currently treating nine patients with COVID-19, including four in intensive care units.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines recommending the use of vaccines, masks, and COVID testing at schools, in addition to social distancing.

Doctors at Children’s Mercy say all of those measures are necessary to relieve a hospital staff that’s burned out and exhausted caring for kids.

“I am comfortable with vaccines,” Dr. Jennifer Watts, pediatric emergency medicine specialist at the hospital, said. “I am comfortable with masking. I am comfortable with all the cleaning precautions in place at schools. The schools that have implemented those mitigation strategies in their schools: Absolutely I am comfortable with that. I think there’s pretty good evidence that shows those work. If we can continue to maintain that through the winter, I think we will feel much better about the slow spread of COVID-19 and slow the spread of other viral illnesses, which will help our hospital as far as testing volumes and inpatient numbers.”

Some districts, including Kansas City Public Schools, are now testing students who have come into contact with a positive case, instead of quarantining them.

Vaccines still aren’t approved for children under 12.

Pfizer says to expect trial results at the end of the month, which means the best case scenario for beginning immunizations for kids under 12 would be at the end of October or sometime in November.

Whenever that does happen, Children’s Mercy says it has vaccines for kids on hand and ready to roll as soon as possible.