The CDC is setting the record straight after Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor claimed that the Omicron variant has placed 100,000 US children in the hospital, with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stating that just a mere fraction of that number of kids has been hospitalized.
In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Walensky confirmed to host Bret Baier that fewer than 3,500 children are in the hospital with COVID-19.
While the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 remains low, the CDC chief stressed the importance of getting vaccinated against the virus, stating that those children that were hospitalized generally were not vaccinated.
"Yeah, but, you know, here's what I can tell you about our pediatric hospitalizations now," Walkensky said. "First of all, the vast majority of children who are in the hospital are unvaccinated, and for those children who are not eligible for vaccination we do know they are most likely to get sick with COVID if their family members aren't vaccinated."
As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving the Biden administration's vaccine mandate on Friday, Sotomayor claimed that "We have over 100,000 children, which we've never had before, in serious condition and many on ventilators." The justice was later lambasted for using the alarmist language Friday and overstating the number of child hospitalizations.
Walensky also noted that the number of those in the hospital that have COVID-19 generally include patients who go to hospitals for other reasons and happen to test positive while they are there, as opposed to those who go to the hospital because they are sick with COVID-19.
"In some hospitals that we've talked to, up to 40 percent of the patients who are coming in with COVID are coming in not because they're sick with COVID but because they're coming in with something else and have had COVID or the omicron variant detected," she said.
In response to Baier asking just how many of the around 836,000 COVID-19 deaths were due to the virus, and not because they died with the virus, Walensky responded that the "data will be forthcoming."
"While pediatric hospitalizations are rising, they are still about 15-fold less than hospitalizations of our older demographics," she said.
Despite the low death and hospitalization rate of children with COVID-19, Walensky stressed the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted.
"My responsibility is to provide guidance and recommendations to protect the American people. Those recommendations strongly recommend vaccination for our children above the age of five, and boosting for everyone above the age of 15 if they’re eligible," said Walensky.