Pediatric hospital admissions for COVID-19 jump in L.A. County – KABC-TV

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Los Angeles County health officials are seeing a jump in pediatric cases and hospitalizations as the highly transmissible omicron variant quickly spreads through Southern California.

At the start of December, the county saw 457 pediatric cases of COVID-19, with eight young patients hospitalized.

By just before Christmas, the number of new pediatric cases more than doubled to 1,214, while there were 21 patients in local hospitals under age 17.

Yet, despite this jump in cases, federal health officials say initial findings show the omicron variant is not more of a threat to children.

“All indications point to a lesser severity of omicron versus delta,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president.

Instead, scientists say much of the rise in pediatric hospital admissions results from the sheer number of children who are becoming infected with both delta and the omicron variants, as well as low vaccination rates among kids over five.

The U.S. is now averaging more than 265,000 cases a day.

The CDC recently shortened the isolation period for asymptomatic Americans infected with COVID-19 from 10 days to five days followed by strict mask-wearing for another five days.

But the CDC is not recommending people first test negative before coming out of isolation.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended this decision.

“We do know the vast majority of viral transmission happens in those first five days, somewhere in the 85% to 90% range. So if you can isolate for the first five days, that would be great.”

New data shows over-the-counter rapid antigen tests may not be as sensitive to the omicron variant as to the delta. But Walensky said those tests still play an important role.

“Those antigen tests still work quite well and work well especially in places that are using them like in higher education every two or three days. That’s really when they work well so we still are encouraging their use,” Walensky said.

And if you’ve been having trouble finding at home tests in stores, the FDA just authorized two new rapid antigen test kits. One is manufactured by Roche and the other by Siemens.

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