Alabama has overtaken Florida as the state with the highest rate of children hospitalized with Covid-19 after the number of kids admitted increased by more than 300% in just one week amid a broader surge in hospitalizations across the state, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Already one of the states with the most children hospitalized with Covid-19 prior to the jump, Alabama flew past Florida, Georgia and Louisiana when it admitted nearly 260 kids (an average of 37 per day) between August 10 and August 16.
This is a 333% increase from the week prior, when a total of 63 children in Alabama were hospitalized with the coronavirus (an average of nine per day), landing Alabama with by far the highest rate of children hospitalized in the country: 3.41 per 100,000 residents.
The states with the next highest rates of child hospitalizations are Florida (1.28 per 100,000 residents), Louisiana (1.13) and Georgia (1.06), with only Florida and Texas beating the volume of children admitted to hospitals daily in Alabama at 54 and 42, respectively.
The only states with surges comparable to Alabama’s are Kentucky and South Dakota, where child hospitalizations increased roughly three-fold this week—but both states still have hospitalization rates below 0.4.
Alabama currently has more children hospitalized with Covid-19 than at any other point in the pandemic, outpacing its winter peak by more than 700%.
Alabama’s hospital system has been overwhelmed amid a surge in cases caused by the more infectious delta variant, with the Alabama Hospital Association announcing Wednesday night that there were “negative 29” intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in the state. Battling one of the country’s most severe outbreaks, Alabama is also one of the least vaccinated states in the nation: just 36% of residents are fully inoculated while 47% have had at least one jab. Local public health experts say the number of children becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 is increasing because of the sheer number of new infections reported across the state. Kids under 18 are making up an increasingly large proportion of the U.S.’s total infections and cases among this demographic are soaring nationwide.
While health agencies have not said the delta variant is more dangerous to children, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, the director of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, stressed during a Wednesday briefing that she is seeing kids seriously ill with Covid-19. “At Children’s Hospital here we have 12,” Marrazzo said of the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. “Two of those are intubated on a ventilator in the ICU. They’re less than two [years old] … It is a very scary virus, in terms of not only transmission, but probably its ability to cause severe disease, especially in children.”
What To Watch For
How the surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalization in kids will impact the school year in Alabama. The state has already reported nearly 6,000 Covid-19 cases since some schools returned for in-person learning this month. Local pediatricians have been urging children to wear masks while on campus.
Hospitalization and death from Covid-19 remains “uncommon” among children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which highlights between 0.00% and 0.03% of all infections ended in death in the states that have reported virus-related deaths by age. However, the AAP this week published an “urgent” call for more data collection “on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children” from “long-term physical health” to “emotional and mental side effects.”
2,100. That’s about how many children were hospitalized with Covid-19 across the U.S. between August 10 and August 16, according to the CDC, a 25% increase from the country’s previous pandemic record set the week prior.
“Alabama has no more I.C.U. beds available, the state authorities said.” (The New York Times)
“UAB doctors warn of delta’s impact on children, urge masks in schools” (The Alabama Reporter)