Children hospitalized with COVID-19 in US reach record numbers

By Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) – The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States hit a record high of just over 1,900 on Saturday, as southern hospitals were at full capacity to fight epidemics caused by the highly transmissible variant Delta.

The Delta variant, which is spreading rapidly among most of the unvaccinated portion of the U.S. population, has spiked hospital admissions in recent weeks, pushing the number of pediatric hospitalizations to 1,902 on Saturday, data shows from the US Department of Health and Humanity. Services.

Children currently account for about 2.4% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the country. Children under 12 are not eligible to receive the vaccine, making them more vulnerable to infection with the new, highly transmissible variant.

“This is not last year’s COVID. This one is worse and our children will be the most affected by it,” Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN on Saturday.

The number of newly hospitalized COVID-19 patients aged 18 to 29, 30 to 39, and 40 to 49 also hit record highs this week, according to data from the state Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). -United.

The spike in new cases has escalated tensions between conservative heads of state and local districts over whether schoolchildren should be required to wear masks when they return to class this month.

School districts in Florida, Texas and Arizona have demanded that masks be worn in schools, defying orders from their Republican governors who prohibit districts from imposing such rules. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has threatened to halt funding for districts that impose mask requirements, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is appealing to the state’s Supreme Court to overturn the mask mandate of the Dallas County, the Dallas Morning News reported on Friday.

A fifth of the nation’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are in Florida, where the number of COVID-19 hospital patients hit a record 16,100 on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally. More than 90% of the state’s intensive care beds are full, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

INCREASED HOSPITALIZATIONS

The country’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association, spoke out in favor of mandatory vaccination for its members this week. NEA President Becky Pringle said on Saturday that schools should use all mitigation strategies, from vaccines to masks, to ensure students can return to their classrooms safely this school year.

“Our students under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated. It is our responsibility to keep them safe. Keeping them safe means that anyone who can be vaccinated must be vaccinated,” Pringle told CNN.

The United States now averages about 129,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, a rate that has doubled in just over two weeks, according to a Reuters tally. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is at an all-time high of six months, and an average of 600 people die each day from COVID-19, double the death rate seen at the end of July.

Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oregon reported record hospitalizations for COVID-19 this month, according to a Reuters tally, pushing healthcare systems to operate beyond their capacity.

“Our hospitals strive to maximize their staff and available beds, including the use of conference rooms and cafeterias,” Florida Hospital Association president Mary Mayhew said in a statement Friday.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown said Friday she was sending 500 National Guard members to help overwhelmed hospitals, with 1,500 total members available to help.

In Jackson, Mississippi, federal medical workers are helping understaffed local teams at a 20-bed triage center in the parking lot of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) to deal with the overflow of COVID patients -19.

Fifteen children and 99 adults were hospitalized with COVID-19 at UMMC on Saturday morning, the hospital said. More than 77% of these patients were not vaccinated.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Lisa Shumaker; editing by Diane Craft and Aurora Ellis)

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