The U.S. documented a record number of COVID-19 pediatric hospital admissions on Wednesday, with federal data showing almost 1,000 children with confirmed infection were admitted.
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, more than 3,100 children are hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 as of Thursday, with another 1,300 suspected to be infected with the virus.
The government’s top infectious diseases 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.