For much of the pandemic, we’ve been able to take a little solace in the fact that most kids won’t catch COVID-19. But as we’ve covered, most doesn’t mean all and the more COVID-19 spreads, the more it will beat the odds with some children — and occasionally, those cases can be serious and even deadly.
Case in point, NBC reports that U.S. hospitals are fielding about 1,200 cases of COVID in children a day — a number four times higher than it was at the beginning of July. COVID is spreading particularly quickly in communities with a low vaccination rate, where some pediatric wings are filling up to capacity fast. The HHS found that pediatric hospitalizations for COVID were highest in Alabama, Florida, Delaware, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Other than Delaware, all those states have lower vaccination rates than the national average.
In Texas, so few ICU beds were available for children that one state judge put it in bleak terms: “Your child will have to wait for another child to die.”
“We’re sitting at about 95-97 percent occupancy right now, which is normally where we are in the dead of winter,” Dr. Nick Hysmith said of his own hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, according to NBC News. “So that’s concerning, because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks.”
The rise in cases has corresponded with a tension-filled return to school, as parents, politicians, school officials and medical experts have clashed over mask mandates in classrooms. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order forbidding schools from requiring students to wear masks. When schools in Broward County defied the order, DeSantis informed them that he would be withholding the salaries of the school board members if they did not comply. Florida joins states like Texas and Iowa that have banned mask mandates in schools, even as cases soar and hospitals strain under the influx of young patients.