RSV hospitalization rates for newborns are seven times higher than they were in 2018, the last full season before the pandemic struck, and flu hospitalizations are the worst they’ve been in a decade. Rhinovirus, enterovirus, adenovirus, metapneumovirus and parainfluenza are also contributing to this wave of illness, and Covid cases are beginning to rise once again in the US.
More than three-quarters of pediatric hospital beds were already full by mid-November. One hospital in Oregon has instituted pediatric crisis of care standards, an emergency measure to stretch existing capacity. Hospitals in California and Maryland began using overflow tents to try to address the swell in pediatric patients. Children’s hospitals in Boston and Salt Lake City have canceled planned surgeries.
At least three children have died from RSV and 12 children have died from the flu so far this year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Leading child health organizations are calling for the Biden administration to declare a national emergency, as some 55 million Americans return from Thanksgiving holiday travel and many prepare for Christmas and New Year celebrations.