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COVID hospitalizations are climbing in NY, including among children

Don Pollard
Office of the Governor
Gov. Kathy Hochul, center, speaks during a COVID-19 briefing in Albany Mon. December 27, 2021

On Monday, more than 5,500 New Yorkers were hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest hospitalization since February. Hospitalizations are also on the rise in recent weeks among children, many of whom are still not vaccinated against COVID.

Most people who have gotten seriously ill or have died of COVID-19 have been older adults, but kids can get the coronavirus and be hospitalized from it.

New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett tried to hammer that reality home at a COVID briefing on Monday.

“Many people thought [and] continue to think that children don’t become infected with COVID. This is not true. Children become infected and some will be hospitalized.”

Out of about 3,500 New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID in early December, 70 of them were children. That’s a small fraction, but pediatric hospitalizations have been climbing this month. The following week, 104 kids were hospitalized and the week after that, ahead of Christmas, 184 kids were in the hospital with COVID.

Bassett said she wants everyone to know that pediatric hospitalizations are on the rise.

“We’re releasing these data because we want pediatricians to be alert to making the diagnosis of COVID in children and we also want parents to be alert to the diagnosis.”

Parents have a key role to play in this moment. Not only should they be on the lookout for COVID symptoms, Bassett said, but they’re also the ones who have to give consent to get their kids getting vaccinated. State data shows most kids hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated.

Vaccination rates are especially low among kids from 5 to 11 years old, at just 16%. That age group wasn’t approved for the vaccine until early November. At Monday’s briefing, Governor Kathy Hochul urged parents to get their kids vaccinated.

“Parents– I’m calling on you. This is the time. You have the kids home from school," Hochul said. "There’s plenty of vaccination opportunities, from your pediatrician, to a site set up by the State of New York, our urgent care centers– so many places– drug stores where you can go get your child vaccinated before they get back to school.”

Many kids will return to school next week. That’s as New York deals with the biggest COVID surge since the start of the pandemic, a surge that health officials expect to affect all parts of the state.