Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States have been increasing steadily for months, with weekly admissions now over triple what they were two months ago. While seniors have the highest rates of Covid hospitalizations, the rates among children, especially those under the age of 5, are rising rapidly. In the week ending September 9, over 20,500 people were admitted to the hospital with Covid-19, marking an 8% increase from the previous week.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and cardiologist at George Washington University, expressed concern over the increasing hospitalizations, emphasizing the need for a greater sense of urgency as deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise. The Biden administration is aware of the increased infections and hospital admissions and is preparing to ramp up messaging on flu, RSV, and Covid vaccines, with a focus on high-risk populations such as seniors and young children.
According to the latest data from the CDC, more than half of new Covid-19 hospital admissions were among people aged 70 and older, and over two-thirds were among those aged 60 and older. However, a new analysis by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that hospital admissions among children are rising at a faster rate than the average. In the week ending September 9, nearly 1,200 children were admitted to the hospital with Covid-19, marking a five-fold increase over the past three months. Children under 5 years old were found to be the most at risk, accounting for about half of all pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations.
Dr. Sandy L. Chung, president of the AAP, expressed concern over the increase in hospitalizations among young children, noting that this age group has the lowest vaccination rates. She urged parents to talk to their pediatricians about protecting their families through vaccination. Vaccination rates for children have consistently lagged, with less than 1% of children under 5 and less than 10% of children aged 5 to 17 receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
As the US enters respiratory virus season, Covid-19 remains the main virus of concern, as it represents nearly all virus-associated hospitalizations since the beginning of the year. However, levels of RSV, another respiratory virus, have started to pick up in most regions of the country. Dr. Susan Walley, chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine at Children’s National Hospital, highlighted the importance of all eligible children receiving the Covid-19 and influenza vaccines to protect against respiratory illnesses.
Currently, Covid-19 hospitalizations are concentrated in the southern states, with Florida having the highest hospitalization rate among all states. Despite the recent increases, Covid-19 hospitalizations are still about half of what they were during last winter’s peak. Virus levels have started to recede in some parts of the country, particularly in the South, where viral concentrations dropped about 25% in the first two weeks of September. However, CDC forecasting models suggest that hospitalization rates will continue to rise and could double by the peak of the season in December.
The Biden administration is working on various outreach efforts, including digital outreach and messaging to physicians and healthcare providers, to encourage vaccination and other preventive measures. The administration also announced the reopening of Covidtests.gov, where households can request four free Covid-19 tests. Flu vaccines and RSV vaccines for people aged 60 and older are already available, and updated Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are being rolled out nationwide and are recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older.
In conclusion, the rise in Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States, particularly among seniors and young children, is a cause for concern. Vaccination rates for children remain low, and the Biden administration is focused on increasing vaccination efforts and promoting preventive measures as the country enters respiratory virus season.