Last night NBC’s network news reported “record numbers” of children in hospitals with COVID-19 since Omicron came to the United States. Physicians from Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, Texas Children’s Hospital, and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland all alluded to sharp increases in children with serious COVID-19 infections.
In contrast, Dr. Fauci recently dismissed this rise as the product of increased documentation from testing in children admitted to hospitals for other reasons. What is really happening?
While it is hard to find data at the CDC website broken down by age, there is a chart in the NYT that seems to argue against a pediatric COVID-19 surge. This graph indicates that childhood hospital admissions for COVID-19 remain low.
Currently there are only two children with Covid-19 admitted per 100,000 daily hospitalized individuals under age 18 in the US (yellow line, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
This is lower than any other age group and has not substantially increased during the entire pandemic.
For better granularity I looked at the Michigan state COVID-19 website. As compared to the over 4,200 adults with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in Michigan hospitals, there are only 96 children in the entire state of Michigan hospitalized with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. As Dr. Faucet pointed out, this does not mean they were admitted to the hospital to care for COVID, just that they have been documented to be infected.
While this is not meant to trivialize these sick children, all of the hospitals in the NBC report are referral centers that are most likely to see COVID infected children, especially with other predisposing illnesses. In general, however, the numbers seem to contradict NBC’s story of an “alarming rise” in children’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.