The Supreme Court justice claimed there are more than 100,000 children in ‘serious condition’ from COVID-19.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky clarified that the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 is nowhere close to the statistic put forth by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Friday while noting the Americans can still work to reduce hospitalization by getting vaccinated.
On Sunday, Walensky provided an update on the current numbers, confirming that there are fewer than 3,500 children in hospitals with COVID-19.
COVID hospitalizations generally include patients who go to hospitals for other reasons and happen to test positive while they are there, as opposed to those who go to the hospital because they are sick with COVID.
Walensky did not have a number of how many children, if any, were on ventilators.
Speaking with Bret Baier, Walensky confirmed less than 3,500 children are in hospitals with COVID-19.
“Yeah, but, you know, here’s what I can tell you about our pediatric hospitalizations now,” Walkensky said. “First of all, the vast majority of children who are in the hospital are unvaccinated, and for those children who are not eligible for vaccination, we do know they are most likely to get sick with COVID if their family members aren’t vaccinated.”
The confusion around the statistic falls during oral arguments in a case involving the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees. Sotomayor brought up children suffering during the pandemic.
“We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition and many on ventilators,” Sotomayor said. That figure is dramatically higher than the figure Walensky provided.
Walensky also pointed out that numbers of COVID hospitalizations generally include patients who go to hospitals for other reasons and happen to test positive while they are there, as opposed to those who go to the hospital because they are sick with COVID.
Walensky was also questioned about the number of patients who come into the hospital with COVID, which she stated, “In some hospitals that we’ve talked to, up to 40% of the patients who are coming in with COVID are coming in not because they’re sick with COVID but because they’re coming in with something else and have had COVID or the omicron variant detected,” she said.
Walensky was pressured on her information regarding how many children, if any, are on ventilators. Walensky did not know how many children were on ventilators. Urging Americans to get vaccinated, she said she believes many hospitals do not have any vaccinated children on ventilators.
The CDC director also acknowledged that not only is the number of children hospitalized significantly lower than what Sotomayor claimed, but it is also far less than that of older age demographics.
“While pediatric hospitalizations are rising, they are still about 15-fold less than hospitalizations of our older demographics,” she said.
Walensky also confirmed that children have a lesser risk of dying of COVID-19 than adults while making clear that kids should still receive protection.
“Comparatively, the risk of death is small, but of course, children aren’t supposed to die,” she said. “So if we have a child who is sick with COVID-19… we want to protect them, of course.”
Another pandemic-related issue affecting children is school closures and staffing shortages. Walensky pointed out that schools managed to remain open safely under conditions worse than current conditions.
“I want to remind people that in the fall of this year, we had a delta surge, and we were able to safely keep our children in school before pediatric vaccination,” she said.
Justice Sotomayor mentioned delta during oral arguments Friday, claiming that the omicron variant is just as deadly.
Walensky seemed to reject the idea that this is true on an individual basis, stating that “on a person-by-person basis, it may not be,” but noting that due to the greater number of omicron cases, the death rate “may rise dramatically.”