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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Monday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported more than 16,000 new cases over the last three days, and of those cases, 18% are children.

“We’ve seen the prevalence rate of covid positivity among children at our hospital rise from 1% to 7% and now to about 20% over the course of the last 30 days. We are hospitalizing record numbers of children, half of the children in our hospital today are under two years of age,” said Dr. Mark Kline, Chief of Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

According to the LDH, more than 1,500 children under five-years-old are infected with covid, and more than 5,000 kids ages five to seventeen are battling the virus.

The Delta variant is responsible for a majority of these new infections.

“We now have more than 2,700 people in our hospitals with covid. The pre-delta variant surge peak in hospitalizations was less than 2,100. So, we are having the worst situation in terms of the pandemic across the board here in Louisiana, and unfortunately, we don’t see anything that indicates that we have peaked,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

As more adults get infected, more children who are too young to get vaccinated are catching covid and ending up in hospital beds.

“On average, we’ve been seeing around 13 to 14 patients a day. A couple of weeks ago, we got up to a high of 20. This weekend, we had 17,” said Dr. Amanda Jackson, Vice President of Physician Services at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

Dr. Jackson adds that though this sounds like a low number, there’s a limited amount of ICU beds at the hospital to take care of patients with other illnesses. She says it’s up to adults to help stop the spread of covid.

“Get your teenagers vaccinated, go get yourself vaccinated, it is the only way to stop this pandemic,” said Dr. Jackson.

Dr. Jackson says the hospital is severely understaffed because of covid, but healthcare workers from across the country are expected to arrive Tuesday to help with the staffing shortage.