Headlines announce that the rates of children being hospitalized with COVID-19 have soared in recent weeks. Among other issues, this has led to citywide school closures in Chicago. The omicron variant is blamed for both trends.

Reporting statistics is challenging, because counting is hard. It’s so hard, in fact, that health officials decided to invent new rules and round up when counting COVID-19 cases in children. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently issued a statement at a briefing. She said that the number of children hospitalized with COVID include kids who were admitted to the hospital for other reasons but later found to test positive for COVID. 

Also, the sudden uptick in numbers might be related to the fact that COVID hospitalizations in the youngest age group are defined as a those who had a positive virus test within 14 days of hospitalization for any reason.

You read that right. A kid comes to the hospital with a broken leg but tested positive for COVID-19 within two weeks is counted as a hospitalized COVID patient. Maybe his only symptoms were the sniffles, maybe she was asymptomatic; we don’t know and it doesn’t matter, because on paper they’re a severe COVID case.

Dr. Fauci also said many children hospitalized with COVID have other health conditions that make them more susceptible to virus-related complications. These preexisting conditions include obesity, diabetes, and lung disease. 

Furthermore, an independent doctor seems to have confirmed this. 

“Most of the COVID+ kids in the hospital are actually not here for COVID-19 disease. They are here for other issues but happen to have tested positive,” John McGuire, MD, wrote in an email to the Associated Press. Dr. McGuire is the Seattle Children’s Hospital critical care chief. 

Data from the CDC shows that the hospitalization rate in kids under age 5 has risen to more than 4 in 100,000 children, up from 2.5 per 100,000 previously. The rate among older children, those aged 5 to 17, is roughly 1 per 100,000. This data is drawn from over 250 hospitals in 14 states. But the overall hospitalization rate among those under age 18 is still the lowest across all demographics. 

It’s scary for parents to think they’re children are at risk of easily contracting a life-threatening illness. But the data – skewed as it is – doesn’t support the fear-based agenda our nation’s leadership is promoting. 

Fauci and Walensky have both emphasized that one of the best methods to protect our youngest citizens is to vaccinate everyone else who is eligible, since no COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved for kids under 5. 

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