With the delta variant surging, the number of COVID cases among children is on the rise too. A number of stories Monday take a look at that issue in particular, especially in the context of schools reopening. Coverage:
- Rising hospitalizations: The number of children hospitalized daily has risen since early July, reports the New York Times. From July 31 to Aug. 16, the figure was 216, which is on par with the number during COVID's January peak. The overall number of positive tests among children is on the rise as well; there were 72,000 pediatric COVID cases from July 22 to July 29, about double the previous week.
- Context: As Science News points out, "most children who get COVID-19 recover with no lingering effects." Still, the story notes between January 2020 and last Wednesday, COVID had killed 416 children in the US. That's a tiny percentage of overall deaths, but "anything that kills more than 350 children a year is going to automatically rank in the top 10 causes" of childhood death, says Debbie-Ann Shirley of University of Virginia Health in Charlottesville.
- Where: Pediatric wards are filling up around the US, particularly in Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, note NBC News and USA Today. "Our children's hospitals are completely overwhelmed," Dr. Aileen Marty of Florida International University tells CNN. NBC notes that a rise in respiratory viruses unrelated to COVID is also contributing to the spike.
- Fauci: "There are a lot of children now—all you need to do is do a survey of the pediatric hospitals throughout the country, and you’re seeing a considerable number of young people who are not only infected but who are seriously ill," Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday on NBC News, per Rolling Stone. "Again, the numbers compared to the elderly are less, but that’s a false comparison. These kids are getting sick. We’ve really got to make sure we protect them." He called for mask mandates at schools, an idea being rebuffed in states including Florida and Texas.
- Infections: The vast majority of children are not vaccinated. Vaccines are not available yet for those 12 and younger, and less than half of those in the 12-to-17 age group have been vaccinated, per the Times. Doctors tell NBC their pediatric COVID cases are often caused by an unvaccinated adult bringing the virus home.
- 'Long' cases: While estimates vary on how widespread the problem is, a separate Times story notes that "long COVID"—cases in which symptoms linger for months and months—has been documented among children. Some studies put the figure at 10% of cases, others as high as 30%. But the issue is particularly acute for young people because the "foggy brain" often associated with long COVID means that attending school is difficult, if not impossible.
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