news lawmakers call on biden and hhs to declare a pediatric health emergency in the u s

Lawmakers call on Biden, HHS to declare a Pediatric Health Emergency in the U.S.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of hospitalizations for flu-like illnesses is the highest since the 2010-2011 flu season.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia encouraged President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a letter yesterday to respond nationally to the increasing numbers of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu and mental health patients in hospitals in Virginia and across the country.

The worst surges of flu and flu-like illnesses in the United States are happening in Virginia, according to a press release. Eight percent of all emergency departments and urgent care visits, including 21 percent of pediatric visits, are for flu-like illness.

Ten of Spanberger’s colleague joined efforts in her letter to Biden and HHS Secretary Beccera encouraging leaders to declare a Pediatric Health Emergency. The emergency declaration would provide assistance to pediatric healthcare providers as hospitals become overwhelmed by high numbers of pediatric RSV, flu and mental health patients. The lawmakers also pointed out the strain this situation puts on hospitals, providers and patients across the country.

“Pediatric hospitals across the country are seeing a spike in RSV and influenza cases. As we know from the COVID-19 pandemic, contagious respiratory illnesses can quickly overwhelm hospitals and staff, resulting in shortages in workforce and other resources,” the letter states. “Beyond RSV and influenza, pediatric beds are also being used for an increasing number of pediatric mental health patients who have nowhere else to go.”

The letter continues to state that Biden and HHS’s “continued support for health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped limit the effect of the virus throughout the country. We hope that you will take similar prompt and preemptive action to aid pediatric hospitals to protect the health and well-being of our nation’s youth and the doctors and practitioners who oversee their care.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.