Rochelle Walensky, Director of CDC, clarified that children with COVID-19 are not nearly as many as the statistics presented by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday. However, she noted that Americans can still reduce hospitalizations by getting vaccinated. Walensky gave an update on current numbers to Fox News Sunday host Bret Baier. He confirmed that less than 3500 children are in COVID-19 hospitals.
Walkensky stated, “Yeah but, you know. Here’s what you can tell me about our pediatric hospitalizations right now.” “First, we know that the vast majority (over 90%) of the children in the hospital are not vaccinated. We also know that children with COVID who aren’t vaccinated are more likely to become ill if they haven’t been vaccinated.
Sotomayor raised the case of the Biden administration’s mandate to provide vaccines for businesses with 100 or more employees during oral arguments. This earned her four “Pinocchios,” from the Washington Post fact-checker.
Sotomayor stated that there are more than 100,000 children in severe condition, many of whom are on ventilators, and that this is a record. This figure is significantly higher than Walensky’s.
Walensky also noted that COVID hospitalizations are more common among patients who visit hospitals for other reasons and don’t test positive until they return home. She said that up to 40% of patients coming into hospitals with COVID have COVID, but it’s not because they are sick.
Walensky didn’t have any information on the number of children who are on ventilators. She urged Americans to get vaccinated and said that many hospitals don’t have any ventilators for vaccinated children.
The CDC director acknowledged that the number of child hospitalizations is significantly lower than Sotomayor claimed. It is also far less than the rate for older demographics. She said that while pediatric hospitalizations are on the rise, they still represent about 15-fold less than those of older patients.
Walensky confirmed that COVID-19 is less likely in children than it is in adults, but emphasized that protection should be given to all children. She said that while the risk of death for children is low, it’s not comparable. “So, if we have a sick child with COVID-19… we want them to be protected.
School closures are a pandemic-related problem that affects children. They have been occurring either as a preventive measure or because of staff shortages when teachers or administrators are sick. Walensky noted that schools were able to stay open even in conditions worse than the current. She said, “I want people to remember that we had a Delta surge in the fall of last year and were able safely to keep our children at school before we did pediatric vaccination.”
Justice Sotomayor spoke out Friday about delta, saying that the omicron variant of the virus is equally deadly. Walensky appeared to deny that this was true for each individual, but stated that it could be “on a person by person basis.” However, Walensky noted that the death rate may rise because of the higher number of omicron cases.