FACT CHECK: Are There Over 100,000 Children Hospitalized With COVID-19 In The US?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor claimed during oral arguments on Jan. 7 that over 100,000 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S.

“We have hospitals that are almost at full capacity with people severely ill on ventilators. We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in — in serious condition and many on ventilators,” Sotomayor said, according to the Supreme Court transcript.

Verdict: False

Less than 5,000 children are in the hospital with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, according to Jan. 11 data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Fact Check:

The Supreme Court heard arguments for President Joe Biden’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule that would require businesses with 100 or more employees to have their employees vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly, according to SCOTUSBlog. During these arguments, Sotomayor claimed that over 100,000 children were hospitalized with COVID-19.

“We have hospitals that are almost at full capacity with people severely ill on ventilators. We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in — in serious condition and many on ventilators,” Sotomayor said, according to the Supreme Court transcript.

This, however, is a significant overestimation of how many children are hospitalized with COVID-19. Publicly available data from HHS reports that 4,462 children were hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 as of Jan. 11, a far cry from Sotomayor’s 100,000 figure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there have been 85,369 children (age 0-17) hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in total between Aug. 1, 2020 and Jan. 8. This figure makes up less than 3 percent of the total 3,852,295 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. in the same time period, according to the CDC.

In addition, some states count children who are hospitalized for an unrelated reason and then test positive for COVID-19 while at the hospital as a child COVID-19 hospitalization, according to the Daily Beast. For example, Check Your Fact obtained a breakdown of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York between Dec. 19 and Dec. 23 which showed 111 children being admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 while 73 children were admitted for other reasons but tested positive for the illness.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Fox News Sunday on Jan. 9 that in some hospitals up to 40 percent of child COVID-19 hospitalizations could be the result of children testing positive after being hospitalized for a non-COVID-19 related issue. “In some hospitals that we’ve talked to, up to 40% 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,” said Walensky.

It is worth noting that there has been a sharp increase in new pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to data from the CDC. The seven-day average sits at 830 admissions as of Jan. 8, the highest it has ever been. (RELATED: Did Sweden Stop Using PCR Tests To Diagnose COVID-19?)

The Supreme Court Office of Public Information did not respond to a request for comment.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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