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Child hospitalizations for COVID-19 are not spiking in Utah, but national trends suggest they could

Posted at 5:38 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 19:38:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY — There's a strange reality to talking about children and the risk of Covid-19. They make up a tiny portion of the overall hospitalization and deaths in the pandemic.

At the same time, in any normal year a new disease that killed 459 children in just over a year would be considered a crisis on it's own.

Take for example the attention paid to school shootings. The biggest death toll from school shootings in one school year: 35. A record set three years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Read - Utah reports 1,488 new COVID cases Wednesday; 12 more deaths

Utah has only lost one child to Covid-19 according to the Utah Department of Health. That was in November of 2020.

Now, as students return to schools under varying conditions around the country, 300 children from 0-17 are being admitted to the hospital every day on average. That's the highest number in the pandemic the CDC has recorded so far, though it's largely fueled by surges in Texas and Florida.

In Utah, 2 children a day are being admitted to hospitals on average according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that's a 7-day rolling average up to Monday, August 16, and thus before the vast majority of Utah schools opened. Washington County was the only large district opening the week before.

Read - US health officials recommend eight-month COVID-19 vaccine boosters beginning Sept. 20

The CDC counts more than 530 Utah children admitted to the hospital with Covid-19. The available data suggests nearly a third wind up in the ICU.

Another concern is capacity in the best children's hospitals. Utah takes care of children from surrounding states, most commonly Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada. Primary Children's Hospital is one of only two "Level 1" pediatric hospitals in the Mountain West. The other is Children's Hospital Colorado.