White House Resisting Calls To Declare Child Health Emergency

November 25, 2022

The White House is resisting calls from pediatric health officials to declare a national health emergency due to an early surge in respiratory illnesses in children.

Seasonal influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Covid-19 are at “unprecedented levels” across the country, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, along with other respiratory viruses. They argue that an emergency declaration would allow pediatric health care providers extra funding and more regulatory flexibility, putting less burden on already overtaxed health systems. 

But the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has asserted that a national emergency declaration isn’t necessary at the moment.

“We have offered jurisdictions support confronting the impact of RSV and influenza and stand ready to provide assistance to communities who are in need of help on a case-by-case basis,” an HHS spokeswoman said.

When the demand on a jurisdiction exceeds its resources, the federal government is available to help with staffing and supplies, Dawn O’Connell, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, said on a call to reporters earlier this month.

She added that supplies like ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) can be accessed through the Strategic National Stockpile, should they be needed. So far, no state has made such a request. 

According to the CDC, the hospitalization rate in all American children for the week of November 12 peaked at 17.5 out of every 100,000. That was double the rate of any other season on record.

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