Child Hospitalizations on the Rise Weeks into Texas School Year
The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached an all-time high just weeks after the start of the school year for public schools in Texas, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Over the weekend, more than 300 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas. This uptick represents the highest of any two-day stretch since the onset of the pandemic.
“The delta variant is the most contagious variant to date,” Jim Versalovic, Texas Children’s Hospital pathologist-in-chief and interim pediatrician-in-chief, said in a blog update. “We know that it can spread rapidly, and that’s obviously a major concern for children under 12 who can’t be vaccinated yet. It’s also a concern for the many adolescents that are still in the process of getting vaccinated.”
Versalovic continued, “The delta variant is presenting itself a bit differently in children and adolescents. We are seeing more upper respiratory congestion, congestive features and less prominence of loss of taste and smell, at least initially. Also, similar symptoms that have been apparent throughout the pandemic continue to be the case in children and adolescents, like fever, fatigue, and a variety of upper respiratory symptoms. Any child who has symptoms consistent with an upper respiratory tract infection should be evaluated for COVID-19.”
Among the more than five million students enrolled in Texas public schools, nearly 52,000 cumulative positive cases had been reported as of Sept. 3, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard. Connally Independent School District located near Waco announced it would resume in-person classes this week after two middle school teachers died days apart from COVID-19 complications.
Texas’ increase in pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations tracks closely with a national trend shown in a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC data indicates the highest rate of increase was among teenagers and children four years old and younger.
“Rates of COVID-19–associated hospitalization among children and adolescents increased rapidly from late June to mid-August 2021, coinciding with predominance of the delta variant,” CDC officials said in the report. “With more activities resuming, including in-person school attendance and a return of younger children to congregate child care settings, preventive measures to reduce the incidence of severe COVID-19 are critical. Universal indoor masking is recommended for all teachers, staff members, students, and visitors in kindergarten through grade 12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
In comparison to their vaccinated peers in the eligible age group of between 12 to 17 years old, unvaccinated adolescents were 10 times more likely to require hospitalization for COVID-19, according to the CDC. On Monday, just over 80 staffed pediatric intensive care unit beds were available statewide.
To curb the rampant spread of the virus and its variants, the agency recommends implementing preventive measures including vaccination for those who are eligible, universal mask-wearing in schools, and quarantining after exposure to individuals with COVID-19. But the severe rise in pediatric hospitalizations is not necessarily due to the delta variant’s heightened transmissibility, Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas, said in a blog update.
“Pediatric hospitalizations have dramatically increased in the past month,” Jetelina said. “Yes, the media is accurately portraying the situation on the ground. And, hospitalizations have increased the most for 0-4 year olds. Importantly, this isn’t because [the delta variant] is likely more severe, it’s because we are transmitting delta in the community and our kids aren’t protected. Your decision not to get a vaccine or implement public health measures in schools or the community is directly impacting the health of kids.”
In The News
In The States
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill in the state legislature that mirrors controversial restrictions recently signed... Read More
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill in the state legislature that mirrors controversial restrictions recently signed into law in Texas. Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby, a Republican, filed House Bill 167 Wednesday in the hope that it will be signed into law... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation alongside the Department of Justice is reaching out to election supervisors around the... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation alongside the Department of Justice is reaching out to election supervisors around the country following months of abuse and threats of violence long after the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. The DOJ launched a law enforcement... Read More
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed into law a pledge to eliminate the state's climate-damaging... Read More
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed into law a pledge to eliminate the state's climate-damaging carbon emissions within a quarter-century, including money to keep clean-power nuclear plants running while shuttering coal-fired plants. The legislation invests in the development of renewable solar... Read More
DALLAS (AP) — A San Antonio doctor who said he performed an abortion in defiance of a new Texas law... Read More
DALLAS (AP) — A San Antonio doctor who said he performed an abortion in defiance of a new Texas law all but dared supporters of the state's near-total ban on the procedure to try making an early example of him by filing a lawsuit — and... Read More
STAMFORD, Conn. – Charter Communications, Inc., has launched a five-year, $30 million initiative to revitalize community centers in rural and... Read More
STAMFORD, Conn. – Charter Communications, Inc., has launched a five-year, $30 million initiative to revitalize community centers in rural and urban areas, and invest in job training programs in underserved communities across the 41 states it serves. By 2025, the telecommunications and mass media company says,... Read More
DEL RIO, Texas — Following the closure of the land bridge that connects the border community of Del Rio, Texas,... Read More
DEL RIO, Texas — Following the closure of the land bridge that connects the border community of Del Rio, Texas, to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Sunday, thousands of migrants mostly from Haiti are being removed and sent back to their respective countries of origin. The United... Read More