News from the FDA/CDC

Children and COVID: Hospitalizations provide a tale of two sources


 

New cases of COVID-19 in children largely held steady over the Thanksgiving holiday, but hospital admissions are telling a somewhat different story.

New pediatric COVID cases for the week ending on Thanksgiving (11/18-11/24) were up by 5.3% over the previous week, but in the most recent week (11/25-12/1) new cases dropped by 2.6%, according to state data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

In both weeks, though, the total case count stayed below 30,000 – a streak that has now lasted 8 weeks – so the actual number of weekly cases remained fairly low, the AAP/CHA weekly report indicates.

Number of weekly COVID-19 cases reported in children, United States

The nation’s emergency departments also experienced a small Thanksgiving bump, as the proportion of visits with diagnosed COVID went from 1.0% of all ED visits for children aged 0-11 years on Nov. 14 to 2.0% on Nov. 27, just 3 days after the official holiday, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate was down to 1.5% on Dec. 1, and similar patterns can be seen for children aged 12-15 and 16-17 years.

New hospital admissions, on the other hand, seem to be following a different path, at least according to the CDC. The hospitalization rate for children aged 0-17 years bottomed out at 0.16 new admissions per 100,000 population back on Oct. 21 and has climbed fairly steadily since then. It was up to 0.20 per 100,000 by Nov. 14, had reached 0.22 per 100,000 on Thanksgiving day (11/24), and then continued to 0.26 per 100,000 by Dec. 2, the latest date for which CDC data are available.

The hospitalization story, however, offers yet another twist. The New York Times, using data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, reports that new COVID-related admissions have held steady at 1.0 per 100,000 since Nov. 18. The rate is much higher than has been reported by the CDC, but no increase can be seen in recent weeks among children, which is not the case for Americans overall, Medscape recently reported.

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