The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States reached a record high of just over 1,900 on Aug. 14, making up nearly one in 40 of all COVID-hospitalized patients throughout the nation.
As children under 12 are not eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines per current guidelines, they’re more vulnerable to infection from the delta variant that is causing cases to rise throughout the U.S. And with schools beginning to open up throughout the country, a number of health officials are concerned those numbers will get worse.
“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,” Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, via Reuters. U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data has groups in the 18-29, 30-39 and 40-49 age ranges all hitting record numbers for COVID-related hospitalizations.
The Hill reported that the largest teachers’ union in the country, the National Education Association (NEA), endorsed mandatory vaccines or testing for all educators in K-12 schools, and a number of school boards across the nation are implementing mask mandates for students and teachers—some defying governors and state governments in order to do so.
“School board officials who spoke to The Hill said they had no regrets in supporting mask mandates, even though some face financial repercussions,” the publication reported.
Reuters added, in its reporting, that Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis’ administration has threatened to withhold funding from districts that impose mask requirements.
And as the Texas Tribune noted, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has won a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court upholding his executive order preventing local entities in the state from issuing their own mask mandates. That prompted embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to tweet, “Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands.”
However, the Dallas Independent School District said it would maintain its mask mandate in defiance of the governor and the courts.
The Washington Post, in a feature covering the rising number of pediatric cases and hospitalizations, observed, “The hyper-contagious delta variant has changed much of what we thought we knew about the coronavirus and children—that kids might get infected, but they were extremely unlikely to become seriously ill. Today, as delta infections mount, some front-line doctors suggest children are being hospitalized at higher rates and with more serious illnesses because of the new variant —a still-unproven hypothesis.”
Meanwhile, children are being hospitalized with COVID at increased rates, pediatric hospitals are filling up, and for now, there doesn’t appear to be an ending in sight.