Department of Health and Human Services data updated Thursday showed that 951 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Wednesday, the highest number throughout the pandemic.
These daily new pediatric admissions skyrocketed in the last weeks of December into January, almost tripling in the last two weeks as the omicron variant spreads rapidly throughout the country.
The numbers surpassed previous records set during the delta wave this summer, when daily children hospitalizations reached a peak of nearly 400 in one day.
In total, over 3,100 children are currently hospitalized with confirmed Covid-19 as of Thursday, with another 1,300 suspected to be infected with the virus.
The government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, noted during a press briefing Wednesday that even though the omicron variant ¨appears to be less severe¨ than the delta strain, the caveat is that omicron´s high transmissibility leads to more cases and the inevitability of more hospitalizations.
“The sheer volume of infections because of its profound transmissibility mean that many more children will get infected,” he said. “And as many more children will get infected, a certain proportion of them — usually children that have underlying comorbidities — are going to wind up in the hospital. That is just an inevitability.”
Officials have recommended children older than 2 years old to wear a mask in public and parents to get eligible children vaccinated against the virus as pediatric Covid-19 vaccination rates lag significantly behind adult rates, putting them at higher risk.
As of Dec. 29, almost a quarter of 5- to 11-year-olds and 53 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received at least one dose, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The surges have disrupted the country’s return to schools after the holiday break, with outbreaks sending many teachers and staff into quarantine. But President Biden has said that schools should remain open despite the high volume of cases nationwide.
Hospitalizations are also rising among adults, with almost 20,000 admitted on Wednesday with confirmed Covid-19, bringing the total infected adults hospitalized to nearly 115,000.