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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Buckle up — the pandemic is about to get a lot worse.

COVID hospitalizations in Shelby County doubled in the past two weeks, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center says they could hit an all-time high in just days.

That includes more children getting infected.

The delta variant is spreading fast among the unvaccinated, and that includes children who don’t yet qualify for the vaccine. All this comes just days before the start of school.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital says it’s preparing to re-activate its COVID ward.

The number of kids currently hospitalized with covid has been rising for several days.

Doctors say there were several weeks where there were one or no children in the hospital with COVID, but now there are seven kids in the hospital with COVID.

During a virtual meeting Monday night, Shelby County school officials tried to assure parents that every step will be taken to keep kids safe.

Social distancing will be enforced, kids will sit at desks with see-through shields, and masks will be required inside buildings and on buses.

Dr. Manoj Jain of the Memphis COVID task force says parents and kids need to be patient just a little longer.

“It’s not going to be for the entire school year. It may be for the next two to three months that we have to be very cautious,” Jain said. “Think of it like a blizzard, a snow storm. We just have to get through the delta blizzard and then things will be much better.”

SCS will allow for remote learning again this year, but unlike last year, it will be self-instructed. There will be no teachers giving lessons.