A scary new trend is emerging, and it’s proof that vaccinations are needed more than ever. For most of the pandemic, kids have been largely spared from the worst outcomes when it comes to getting sick with COVID-19. Few children were symptomatic with the virus, and even fewer were hospitalized. But as of right now, 13 states are seeing record levels of kids being hospitalized with COVID-19.
According to Forbes, an analysis of federal data shows that the hyper-infectious delta variant of the coronavirus has resulted in skyrocketing cases of kids falling ill just as the school season begins. Most of these cases are seen in the southern states, where mask mandates are absent, and where there are low rates of vaccination.
As always, it’s important to note that kids still make up a small share of total hospitalizations and positive cases of COVID-19 compared to adults. (The current 7-day average of total hospitalizations is 9,712.) But as adults get vaccinated and are less likely to be hospitalized, kids have begun to take up a larger share of the very sick.
“Nearly 1,600 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.S. last week, according to hospital data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Forbes reports. “A new seven-day record and a 27 percent increase from the week prior—but the states with the most severe increases are also those battling the worst COVID-19 outbreaks.”
It’s not surprising to see that Florida is seeing the country’s most significant surge of kids getting sick with COVID-19. Currently, close to 200 kids are admitted to the hospital battling symptoms, a rate that’s gone up five-fold since the beginning of July. One in every 1,400 Florida residents is hospitalized with COVID at the moment. The data works out to be approximately 54 kids per day hospitalized with COVID, or a rate of 1.27 children per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country.
States like Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama are seeing a significant increase in COVID cases, including hospitalizations in adults and kids. In addition, the state has roughly 40 percent or more of its intensive care unit (ICU) beds filled with patients battling COVID.
Georgia has the second-highest rate of hospitalized kids with 0.93 children hospitalized per 100,000 residents, which works out to 23 kids admitted per day between August 3 and August 9. This is followed by Louisiana and Alabama, with 0.81 and 0.79 children hospitalized per 100,000 residents, respectively, equaling an average of nine kids admitted per day in each state.
Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming also see many children’s hospitals at capacity or dangerously close due to the delta variant. These states are all below the national vaccination average of 50 percent, and it’s harming kids. For example, Texas’s average shows 40 children per day being admitted to hospital due to COVID.
The other two states reporting record levels of child hospitalizations include Maine and Hawaii, where vaccination rates are higher and more than half of residents are fully vaccinated. However, the virus is spreading rapidly in the community, and kids are getting caught in it all.
While kids aren’t dying at a rate close to adults who become infected, they still are susceptible to the long-term effects of COVID. The risks of COVID aren’t simply die or survive. The CDC notes that kids can suffer from severe diseases, often called long haulers, which “occurs in all age groups.” They’re also at risk of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, which can show up weeks after even a mild or asymptomatic infection.
Kids under 12 aren’t eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This makes them at-risk for COVID-19. The delta variant is taking down the unvaccinated at alarming rates. If adults were to get fully vaccinated, we could protect those who cannot get inoculated, creating a shield of protection around kids who will be re-entering school buildings or who already are right now, and drive cases down – and keep kid hospitalizations to a low level.
If you haven’t gotten your vaccines yet, right now is a critical time, so go get your vaccine.