GoLocalProv | News | In RI, COVID Transmission Rate and Hospitalizations Up—Important Info for Parents

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

GoLocalProv News Team and Nick Landekic

GoLocalProv | News | In RI, COVID Transmission Rate and Hospitalizations Up—Important Info for ParentsView Larger +


The numbers are beginning to move upward.

After weeks of steady decline for each of the COVID indicators, the numbers are shifting.


New numbers reported by the Rhode Island Department of Health on Monday unveil that a number of indicators are showing a significant increase in COVID-related indicators.

RIDOH reported the transmission rate jumped to 176.3 per 100,000 residents over 7 days — the state's action level is 100 and the rate had declined to 110.

The one indicator and the one-day spike should not be taken out of context, but two other indicators are showing significant increases too.

Monday's percent positive jumped to 5.1% — last week the seven-day average had been 1.9%.

And, COVID-related infections needing hospitalizations also jumped by more than 20% in the past 10 days to 107.

And, at the national level, after weeks of decline, the New York Times tracking shows that cases are now on the rise.  The 14-day average shows a 5% increase.

Parents Need to Know

For parents, there have been a lot of changes in a short period of time regarding both vaccines and updated data on the impact of the variants on children. Close to home an outbreak at Burrillville High School forced a shift to distance learning.

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty in children ages 5-11, which followed the recommendation of the FDA Advisory Committee on vaccines on October 26.

This week the last step in the process for authorizing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children took place, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee also recommending the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.

There are many reasons for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Unvaccinated children are susceptible to COVID-19

While children generally have less severe infections than adults, they are far from immune to the virus and can become seriously ill, and die, from COVID.

Approximately 700 children have died from the coronavirus and last week, 24% of all new cases in America were in children.

The Delta variant caused a sharp spike in infections in children, with 5-11-year-olds now accounting for nearly 11% of all COVID infections around the country. During the Delta surge, COVID-19 became the 6th leading cause of death among 5-11-year-olds.

Previous exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or prior COVID infection does not guarantee protection. The immune response to having had COVID has been shown to be highly variable. Only 42% of children aged 5-11 have antibodies from natural immunity.

Though many children may not have a severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection, if they need to be hospitalized 1/3 of them end up in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Children are also at risk of a serious condition called MIS-C, Multiple Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. This is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. The risk is highest among 5-11-year-olds. There have been 5,217 MIS-C cases as of October 4. 60-70% of children with MIS-C are admitted to a hospital ICU, and 46 have died of it.

Children are also at risk of long COVID. Studies have shown that up to 14% of children – one in seven – can experience long COVID.

Potential long COVID problems that can happen in children include fatigue, headache, insomnia, trouble concentrating, muscle and joint pain, and cough. There are also impacts on quality of life, such as limitations on their physical activity, feeling upset about their symptoms, mental health challenges, and decreased school attendance.

Since the rise of the Delta variant, over the past two months between 25-30% of all COVID cases in Rhode Island have been in children under age 18.

COVID-19 is killing more children than other preventable diseases

At the CDC Advisory Committee meeting information was presented comparing deaths in children from COVID-19 vs. other preventable diseases.

More than three times as many children have died of COVID-19 in the past year than used to die from either measles (Rubella) or chickenpox (Varicella) before vaccines were available, and more than 20 times as many as used to die of hepatitis. Children are routinely vaccinated for chickenpox and measles.

Unvaccinated children can drive community infections

According to data, infected children can infect others in schools, and then can bring the virus home to infect the rest of their families, including contributing to breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals.

In Rhode Island so far this year there have been 11,025 breakthrough COVID infections in vaccinated individuals, 472 of whom have been hospitalized, and 76 of whom have died.

Safety and effectiveness in children

Reviews by both the FDA and CDC found the Pfizer vaccine to be both safe and highly effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in children. The clinical studies found the vaccine to be 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children aged 5-11.

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