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US reluctant to declare emergency amid surge of kid flu, RSV cases: report


President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center July 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. [Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images]

The Joe Biden administration is reluctant to declare a national emergency in the face of a surge of respiratory illness among children stemming from seasonal flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, The Hill reported on Friday.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association last week urged the federal government to take action, arguing that an emergency declaration would grant more resources to help the health system.

"We need emergency funding support and flexibilities along the same lines of what was provided to respond to COVID surges," the organizations wrote in a letter to Biden and the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra, noting RSV infections have risen to "unprecedented levels."

However, the HHS has indicated a national emergency is not needed at the time, said the report.

"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.

Across Texas, a lot of kids were getting sick ahead of the Thanksgiving Day as the RSV surge was still overwhelming regional hospitals, the latest data from the Texas Department of State Health Services showed.

Doctors at Children's Hospital in New Orleans, the largest city of the southern U.S. state Louisiana, said last week that half of the children hospitalized have some types of respiratory infection, brought on by viruses like the flu, RSV, adenovirus and rhinovirus.

Two years of wearing masks, social distancing and isolation have made more people less immune to the viruses, said Louisiana's state health officer Joseph Kanter.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed that the child hospitalization rate for the week of Nov. 12 peaked at 17.5 out of every 100,000, a rate that was twice as high as any other season on record.

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