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What NBC News' Headline Said About Child COVID Hospitalizations Versus What the Story Actually Said

AP Photo/Richard Drew

NBC News ran a story on Tuesday appearing to sound the alarm over the rise in children being hospitalized with COVID-19, which is occurring at the same time the United States has experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases.

"Child Covid hospitalizations are up, especially in 5 states" is the headline from NBC News, which is a curious headline to run considering what the story later states about child hospitalizations:

"In the last four weeks, the average number of children hospitalized with Covid-19 jumped 52 percent, from a low of 1,270 on Nov. 29 to 1,933 on Sunday, according to an NBC News analysis of Department of Health and Human Services data...Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NBC's 'TODAY' show on Tuesday that the increase was probably inevitable because of the arrival of winter and the transmissibility of the omicron variant.

"However, he said, his hospital has seen a lot of kids test positive for Covid without necessarily showing symptoms or getting sick.

"'We test anybody who’s admitted to the hospital for whatever reason to see whether or not they have Covid, and we’re definitely seeing an increase in cases. However, we’re really not seeing an increase in children who are hospitalized for Covid or in the intensive care unit for Covid,' Offit said."

The story added:

"According to the Department of Health and Human Services, patients are counted among those with Covid if they are suspected of having or laboratory-confirmed positive for the disease, even if they were not originally admitted to the hospital for that reason."

What Offit has observed is in line with what doctors in South Africa saw when the Omicron variant first appeared: it was more transmissible but milder compared to earlier variants.  

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, one of the first doctors in South Africa to treat patients with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, told CNN they had seen a decrease in COVID cases in the region where the Omicron variant was first detected. Likewise, South Africa, whose population has a lower vaccination rate compared to the United States, did not see a rise in hospitalizations or deaths related to COVID-19. 


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