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Child COVID19 Hospitalizations Just Hit Record High. Doctors Say It’s Not the Only Reason to Protect Kids from the Delta Variant.

Child COVID19 Hospitalizations Just Hit Record High. Doctors Say It’s Not the Only Reason to Protect Kids from the Delta Variant.

The school year has just started, but as across the nation doctors feared, more children are getting hit hard by Covid-19 as the Delta variant tramples across the country. Since the last school year, a more contagious variant — Alpha — has been replaced by an even more contagious variant — Delta — as the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US. Now, child cases have increased exponentially, with over 750,000 cases added between August 5th and September 2nd, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Children now make up more than 26% of new Covid-19 cases, the AAP said.

A record-high 2,396 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 as of Tuesday, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). On average, about 369 pediatric Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals every day during the week ending September 6th, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tustin, CA – August 11: Students listen to their teacher during their first day of transitional kindergarten at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, CA on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

More than 55,000 children have been hospitalized with Covid-19 since August 2020, according to CDC data. Many of those children had no known preexisting conditions. Almost half — 46.4% — of children hospitalized with Covid-19 between March 2020 and June 2021 had no known underlying condition, according to CDC data from almost 100 US counties. And the Delta variant is further annihilating the myth that healthy kids can’t get hit hard. Previously, the majority of the sickest children were those with other illnesses or comorbid conditions.

In some cases, children who start with mild or no symptoms from Covid-19 end up hospitalized weeks or months later with a condition called MIS-C — multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. MIS-C is “a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 in which different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs,” the CDC says. At least 4,661 cases of MIS-C had been reported, including 41 deaths, the CDC said. Many of the children with MIS-C don’t start off very sick with Covid-19, but the illness then rapidly progresses.

And while childhood Covid-19 deaths are still rare, that number is increasing. As of Wednesday, at least 520 children have died, according to CDC data. Doctors say it’s critical to protect children against the Delta variant — not just for the sake of their health, but to preserve in-person learning and help prevent more aggressive variants from setting the entire country back.

Teachers have been responsible for spreading Covid-19 to their students in the early weeks of the school year. Every kindergarten teacher at a school in San Antonio tested positive for the coronavirus but did not alert the community at large. Eight Tennessee public school educators have already died within the first month of the academic year. Mask debates rage outside of schools across the country, while studies have shown kids are fine with wearing masks in school.

Doctors are also concerned about long-term Covid-19 complications, which can be significant for children — even for some who initially had mild or no symptoms, the AAP said. With the highly contagious Delta variant, the CDC recommends students from kindergarten through grade 12, along with teachers and visitors, wear masks in school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks in schools for everyone older than 2.

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