More children are getting hospitalized with Covid-19 than ever before as the Omicron variant’s dominance intensifies.
An average of 672 children were admitted to hospitals every day with Covid-19 during the week ending Sunday, the highest such number of the pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It follows a record-high number of new cases among children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The US had more than 325,000 new cases among children during the week ending December 30, according to data published this week by the AAP, marking a 64% increase in new childhood cases compared to the previous week, the AAP said.
About 1,045 children under 18 have died from Covid-19, the CDC said.
And across all age groups, Covid-19 hospitalizations reached a new milestone.
On Tuesday, 112,941 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The new figure far exceeds peak hospitalizations during the Delta variant surge – nearly 104,000 in early September. It’s also creeping toward the pandemic-high number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in a single day – 142,246, on January 14 of last year.
“Unfortunately, this is the consequence of a highly transmissible variant, the Omicron variant,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN on Tuesday.
In just four weeks, Omicron jumped from an estimated 8% of new Covid-19 infections to an estimated 95% of new infections, according to the CDC.
The Omicron variant is up to three times more infectious than the Delta variant, the CDC said.
Now, more hospital intensive care units are nearing capacity.
Nationwide, 1 in 5 hospitals with an ICU said its beds in that unit were at least 95% full last week, according to DHHS data. And more than a quarter of ICU beds nationwide were occupied by Covid-19 patients.
The surgeon general reiterated what many doctors have reported this winter: The vast majority of hospitalized Covid-19 patients are not vaccinated and boosted.
“Remember, those vaccines work. Those boosters are more important than ever before,” Murthy said.
And millions more children heading back to school may soon be able to get a booster shot.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday “nobody has suffered, I think, the social isolation from not being in school more than children.”
“I think we want kids to be in school. But if we want them to be in school, then we have to do everything we can to keep them in school,” Offit said. “With masking and social distancing and vaccination, I think we can really get on top of it.”