Hospitalisation of children with Covid hits record in US Children wait to receive a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while joined by family members and hospital staff at Harborview Medical Center on May 13, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
AS THE delta variant spreads faster in the US, the number of children hospitalised with Covid-19 hit a record high of just over 1,900.
The variant has caused hospitalisations to spike in recent weeks, driving up the number of pediatric hospitalisations to 1,902 on Saturday (14), according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Children currently make up about 2.4 per cent of the nation’s Covid-19 hospitalisations. Kids under 12 are not eligible to receive the vaccine, leaving them more vulnerable to infection from the new, highly transmissible variant.
“This is not last year’s Covid. This one is worse and our children are the ones that are going to be affected by it the most,” said Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The numbers of newly hospitalized Covid-19 patients aged 18-29, 30-39 and 40-49 also hit record highs this week, according to data from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The spike in new cases has ramped up tension between conservative state leaders and local districts over whether school children should be required to wear masks as they head back to the classroom this month.
School districts in Florida, Texas and Arizona have mandated that masks be worn in schools, defying orders from their Republican state governors that ban districts from imposing such rules.
The administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold funding from districts that impose mask requirements, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott is appealing to the state Supreme Court to overturn Dallas County’s mask mandate, reports said.
A fifth of the nation’s Covid-19 hospitalisations are in Florida, where the number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients hit a record 16,100 on Saturday.
The nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, came out in support of mandatory vaccination for its members this week. NEA President Becky Pringle said that schools should employ every mitigation strategy, from vaccines to masks, to ensure that students can come back to their classrooms safely this school year.
“Our students under 12 can’t get vaccinated. It’s our responsibility to keep them safe. Keeping them safe means that everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated,” said Pringle.
The US now has an average of about 129,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, a rate that has doubled in a little over two weeks. The number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients is at a six-month high, and an average of 600 people are dying each day of Covid-19, double the death rate seen in late July.
Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oregon have reported record numbers of Covid-19 hospitalisations this month.