Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the number of hospitalizations for children with COVID-19 has increased in recent days, but she pointed out that many of them are not related to the virus.
“Many of them are actually coming in for another reason. But they happen to be tested when they come in and they’re found incidentally to have COVID,” she told MSNBC on Dec. 29, referring to the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Walensky also noted that the high number of child hospitalizations is “common” for this “time of year,” adding that children “more often” don’t require intensive care unit treatment. Toward the end of the segment, Walensky said that children who are eligible should receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
The CDC director, who has come under fire for her messaging on the COVID-19 pandemic since she was appointed this year, was asked about a report suggesting that the average number of hospitalizations for children who have COVID-19 has increased 52 percent as of Dec. 26. New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Ohio saw the highest increases.
“It’s winter, and this is a winter virus, and this Omicron is particularly contagious, so I think you were going to see an increase anyway,” Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told “Today” earlier this week. Offit similarly noted that many children have tested positive for COVID-19 without showing any symptoms.
“We test anybody who’s admitted to the hospital for whatever reason to see whether or not they have COVID, and we’re definitely seeing an increase in cases. However, we’re really not seeing an increase in children who are hospitalized for COVID or in the intensive care unit for COVID,” Offit said.
The average number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States hit a record high of 258,312 over the past seven days, a Reuters tally showed on Dec. 29, as U.S. officials weigh the impact of the more transmissible Omicron variant.
But during a COVID-19 briefing at the White House the same day, Walensky said that despite the record surge, hospitalizations are relatively lower than previous waves.
The average seven-day COVID-19 hospitalization number is up 14 percent from the previous week to about 9,000 per day, although the seven-day average case rate has increased by 60 percent.
Data procured from other countries showed that Omicron presents less severe disease and lower hospitalization rates. However, Walensky said it’s still too early to tell.
Reuters contributed to this report.