An average of 246 children were admitted to hospital every day between 4 August and 10 August, a spike of more than 27 per cent from the previous seven-day average, and marking the highest seven-day average of pediatric admissions during the public health crisis, surpassing January’s peak average of 217 daily admissions.
Severe cases and infections among children have grown since July, as spread of the more-contagious Delta variant has driven a surge of disease across the US.
Nearly 4.3 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic, as of 5 August, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nearly 94,000 of those cases were added within that week alone, with children now representing 15 per cent of all confirmed infections, an increase from 14.3 per cent, and between 1.5 and 3.5 per cent of all hospitalisations.
The reports arrive as children return to in-person schooling for the 2021-2022 school year, while state and local governments consider or reject mask mandates in schools to combat spread of the disease.
Two states with the highest number of pediatric admissions – Florida, which has seen a daily average of 54 children admitted to hospitals, and Texas, where the daily average is 40 – have both banned mask mandates for schools.
This week, a federal team was dispatched to Children’s Hospital New Orleans after Louisiana officials requested assistance during an influx of patients “unlike anything observed previously” during the pandemic, according to a statement from the hospital.
“Unlike the first or second wave of the virus, this variant is more contagious as it sweeps through our community, this time with more kids requiring hospitalization compared to previous waves of the pandemic,” said the hospital’s chief quality officer Dr Leron Finger.
In Nevada, more than 80 students were potentially exposed to Covid-19 on their first day of school after a parent reportedly sent their child to school despite both the parent and child testing positive for Covid-19 just two days earlier, according to officials.
Three available and free vaccines to fight against Covid-19 are effective against the Delta variant, but children under 12 years old are not yet eligible to receive them, which public health officials have pointed to the spike in pediatric infections.
The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics have urged everyone, regardless of vaccination status, be masked indoors, including in K-12 classrooms.
The CDC also recommends schools maintain three feet of physical distance between students, implement screening testing, and ensure classrooms are ventilated.
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