This year’s holidays accompanied by an increase in Covid-19 cases so high that it surpassed a record set earlier this year. On Tuesday, the United States reached a seven-day average of 265,427 new cases of Covid-19 daily, data from Johns Hopkins University show, overshadowing the previous record of some 251,989 daily cases reported on January 11th.
The increase in infections is reflected in admissions to pediatric wards in some parts of the country. An average of 305 children were battling Covid-19 in a hospital on a given day during the week ending December 26, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services. of the United States (HHS). .
The overwhelming figure is an increase of more than 48% over the previous week and 10.7% lower than the maximum average of 342 children who were admitted to hospitals with the virus in late August and early September.
The number of children in need of medical care at the National Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC, has almost doubled, according to Roberta DeBiasi, head of the hospital’s infectious diseases division.
DeBiasi explained that his hospital admitted about 20 children to their peak, but that number has risen by 40 to 50 during the rise of Omicron. He also noted that most patients are not vaccinated, partially vaccinated or immunocompromised.
“So that’s really the big difference, and it’s not because the virus is more serious. It’s because the overall infectivity and the number of cases have really skyrocketed,” DeBiasi said.
However, he said hospital staff have been able to keep the mortality rate low.
“Even our children who are extremely ill, seriously ill, we have realized very well how to care for these children,” he said.
In New York City, pediatric hospitalizations multiplied by five over a three-week period.
Overall, experts warn that the coming weeks will be difficult for the country in terms of managing a further increase in Covid-19.
“There’s no doubt that January will be filled with many short-term challenges. Hospital beds, staff shortages, trials, scarcity of just about everything. It’s hard for the system to handle so many cases at once,” said senior senior Andy Slavitt. Biden administration’s Covid-19 response team adviser told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Tuesday.
Home test kits are less sensitive to Omicron, says the FDA
Millions of Americans have resorted to Covid-19 testing at home as a precautionary measure before traveling or meeting for vacation. Both experts and officials have been pushing for people to take the test before meeting, especially inside.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday that rapid antigen testing may take less time to detect the Omicron variant.
Studies on antigen tests that used samples from patients who had the virus live showed that while the tests detected the Omicron variant, they did so with less sensitivity, the FDA said. Sensitivity measures how often a test can give a positive result when someone has the disease.
More studies are being done on the tests and the FDA says people should continue to use them.
“The tests are still worth it. Don’t let anyone think the FDA said the tests are no longer good,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. “They say they’re less sensitive. Now. They were never 100% sensitive,” Fauci told CNN’s Michael Smerconish.
“What the FDA is saying today is that when you look at Omicron and its ability to detect Omicron, some of the tests have a further decrease in sensitivity, but they still say that the tests are useful and should be used.” Fauci explained.
Some schools should consider delaying return after the holidays, the expert says
As Covid-19 cases increase, areas with a high level of transmission should think twice to return to in-person learning after the holidays, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the state, said on Tuesday. Baylor College of Medicine School of Tropical Medicine. .
“I wouldn’t do it now,” Hotez told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “You have a resounding level of transmission in the Northeast, in New York City and Washington, DC, trying to open schools right now, it’s hard to imagine how things would go.”
He added: “There is a level of virus transmission that is too high when it comes to a virus that can be as transmissible as measles among a mostly unvaccinated population and will therefore be very harsh.”
New York City and DC have seen a record number of Covid-19 cases in recent days.
New York State broke its Covid-19 positive case record in a single day on Sunday, reporting 49,708 positive cases on Christmas Eve, effectively surpassing the state’s previous record high of 44,431, according to data published Sunday by the office of Governor Kathy Hochul.
In DC, 1,904 new cases of Covid-19 were reported last Wednesday, surpassing the previous day’s record of 1,524 positive coronavirus cases.
However, public schools in New York, which is the largest public school system in the country, will reopen as scheduled for Jan. 3 after a winter break, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
The city is renewing its Covid-19 testing policies to try to keep more students in school during the latest increase, Blasio said.
Schools will receive home test kits for classrooms when a student has tested positive, and students will take two tests a day for seven days, Blasio said. With this new policy, any student who has no symptoms and is negative after a day of two quick tests will return to school the next day, he continued.
The previous policy required that fully vaccinated students identified as close contacts should not be quarantined if they were asymptomatic and tested, but unvaccinated students should be quarantined for 10 days or tested. the bear.
CNN’s Jen Christensen, Virginia Langmaid, Taylor Romine and Adrienne Winston contributed to this report.
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