“Given the size of our country and the diversity of vaccinations versus vaccinations, it will likely take more than two weeks (until the peak of Covid-19 cases),” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert. CNBC this week. “Maybe by the end of January.”
“Get vaccinated, boosted, wear a mask, and avoid large indoor public gatherings when possible,” New York State Governor Cathy Hochhol said in a statement.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday that his state has also set a case record, with more than 4,970 residents testing positive in a single day. Maryland, which reported more than 10,870 new cases on Wednesday, broke a state record set just days earlier and also reported the highest hospitalization rate for Covid-19 this week.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced this week that he will deploy 1,250 members of the state’s National Guard on the same day the state reported its highest hospital admissions for Covid-19. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp also announced the deployment of 200 troops in the same week that six major health systems across the state reported seeing a 100% to 200% increase in hospitalizations.
One expert said things will get worse before they get better.
said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “With that, we’re going to see a complete storm in our healthcare settings.”
Hospital admissions of children for Covid-19 reach record level
An average of 378 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 on any given day during the week ending December 28, according to data released by the CDC and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
This is a jump of more than 66% from the previous week and an all-time record, surpassing the previous record set at the end of August and early September, when an average of 342 children were admitted to hospitals.
The vast majority of children admitted to hospitals are not immunized, Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN Thursday.
“In my own hospital, where I work and practice here in Washington, D.C. at Children’s National, about half of our hospitalizations…are children under five,” said Savio Beers. “I think it’s very important for us to remember that we are protecting ourselves, but we are also protecting those youngsters who are not yet eligible for vaccination.”
“I think it’s going to take at least two months, maybe longer,” Dr. Megan Raney, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean in the Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN Thursday.
“For parents of the under-five group, it is important to know that most children who have been hospitalized with Covid have also had other things like RSV or the flu. So please get your child a flu shot. Make sure you and the rest of the family are adequately protected and that Your child wears a mask when they are in public.”
When asked this week about boosters for teens and younger teens, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wallinsky told CNN that the FDA is “looking into that now.”
“Of course the CDC will follow up quickly once we hear from them and I hope to have that in the … days to weeks ahead,” Walinsky said.
Raney told CNN that the expansion would make a huge difference for many families, and would better protect the younger population who would be eligible for the extra dose.
“This is a huge step forward, especially with the kids going back to school,” Rani said.
The high case and hospitalization numbers and Omicron’s rapidly spreading change have sparked another round of debate across the country about the safest form of returning to school.
“My concern now is that schools will open their doors at the time when this is at its peak,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN. “And then more children are likely to get sick. So we’re going to stay for three or four very difficult weeks.”
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday that despite the climbs, the United States has the tools and resources and that it is “important that we do what we can” to keep schools open all the time, five days a week.
“The goal is to make sure our students and staff are safe, but I think with probation testing, with mitigation strategies, our default should be our students back,” Cardona told CNN. “We recognize that there will be challenges with this and in some places a short-term shutdown may be necessary in order for students to return safely and staffed, but we really need to learn how to thrive during this pandemic.”
In Florida, Miami-Dade County Public Schools became one of the state’s first school districts this week to change its Covid-19 policy due to an explosion of cases, which now requires all adults entering its buildings and buses to wear masks when returning after the holiday break, adding that Students are also “strongly encouraged” to wear masks.
The most important thing parents should do before their children return to school after the holiday is to vaccinate the whole family and make sure children are comfortable wearing a mask, Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference Thursday.
The commissioner added that if the children were not in good health, they should stay at home.
“I don’t have any concerns about opening the school, but it is really important that if children or adults develop symptoms, we consider it covid until proven otherwise and children stay home,” Arwady said.
Virginia Langmaid, Kaitlan Collins, John Quills, Laila Santiago, Naomi Thomas, Kay Jones, and Taylor Romain contributed to this report.