Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor inaccurately claimed that “over 100,000 children” are “in serious condition” because of COVID-19, sparking a rare fact-check of the Obama-appointed judge as some have accused her of spreading misinformation.
Sotomayor made the remarks on Jan. 7 while hearing lawsuits that were filed against the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate that would force private businesses with 100 or more workers to require them to be tested weekly or get the vaccine.
“We have hospitals that are almost at full capacity with people severely ill on ventilators. We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition, many on ventilators,” she said.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when Sotomayor made those comments, fewer than 83,000 children aged 17 and younger had been hospitalized for COVID-19 since August 2020.
Currently, about 3,342 children are hospitalized with COVID-19, federal data show. Some officials, including White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently said that it’s important to note that many children are hospitalized with COVID-19, not because of COVID-19.
“Even though hospitalization among children is much, much lower on a percentage basis than hospitalizations for adults, particularly elderly individuals, when you have such a large volume of infections among children, even with a low level of rate of infection, you’re going to still see a lot more children who get hospitalized,” Fauci said in a Dec. 29 interview.
“If you look at the children who are hospitalized, many of them are hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID.”
In a fact-check against Sotomayor, Politifact wrote that “the pediatric hospitalization rate has remained much lower than that of other age groups,” noting that data show children have by far the lowest hospitalization and death rates among all age groups. The data show that generally, individuals older than the age of 70 are considered to be the most vulnerable to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
Seattle Children’s Hospital Critical Care Chief Dr. John McGuire told The Associated Press (AP) recently that “most of the COVID-positive kids in the hospital are actually not here for COVID-19 disease” while noting that children “are here for other issues but happen to have tested positive.”
Dr. Jennifer Kusma, a pediatrician with Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, told the AP that she has seen more children hospitalized in recent days with COVID-19, noting that most aren’t severely ill.
Republican lawmakers and former Trump administration officials have accused Sotomayor of spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
“How can Justice Sotomayor be this wrong about COVID-19?” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) wrote on Twitter. “Maybe she is listening to misinformation from the political left. I wonder if @Twitter will find these purveyors of COVID-19 misinformation and suspend their accounts!”
The Supreme Court’s press office didn’t respond to a request for comment.