Children's Hospitals Are Begging the Biden Admin to Declare Emergency Amid RSV Surge

Doctors from the nation’s leading children’s hospitals are calling upon the Biden administration to declare a public health emergency in response to this year’s “unprecedented” surge in pediatric respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and flu cases.

In a letter dated November 14, officials from the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics said an “alarming surge” in children being hospitalized for both illnesses is causing “capacity issues” in hospitals throughout the country. They hope an emergency declaration will galvanize the federal government to address this crisis directly.

At this time, more than 75 percent of all pediatric hospital beds in the United States are occupied. Hospitals in Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah, and Washington, D.C., are particularly overwhelmed right now, per CNBC.

“The pediatric health care system is doing all it can to meet these overwhelming needs across the continuum of care and taking regional approaches to meet the growing demands,” the letter reads. “We need emergency funding support and flexibilities along the same lines of what was provided to respond to COVID surges.”

As SheKnows previously reported, the U.S. is indeed in the midst of an unparalleled RSV outbreak. This common respiratory virus usually manifests like a common cold in older children, teens, and adults. However, it can lead to more severe illness in high-risk patients, including premature infants, infants younger than 6 months old, immunocompromised children, or children younger than 2 years old with congenital heart or lung disease.

RSV cases usually peak in the winter, so this outbreak is unique in both its scale and timing. Some have theorized that COVID-19-related isolation periods caused an “immunity gap” among young children, who would have otherwise already contracted RSV.

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