White House Avoids Calls For Respiratory Illness Health Emergency Declaration

The Biden administration is ignoring calls by the American community of medical professionals to declare a national health emergency as a result of the ongoing outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Pediatric hospital beds are under significant pressure nationwide without the declaration that would provide desperately needed federal resources.

RSV is a very common viral infection affecting children. Almost all American kids are infected with RSV at least once by the time they turn 2 years old. Doctors across the country are describing the current outbreak as unprecedented and alarming, however.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that infants younger than 6 months are being hospitalized with RSV infection at a current rate more than 7 times greater than before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On top of the staggering RSV numbers, pediatric hospitalizations for flu infections are higher than at any time in the last decade. Pediatric hospital beds and ICU capacities are being highly pressured as a result.

The Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote to Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra last week explaining the dire circumstances and requesting the federal government undertake several steps to assist.

The letter laid out how “more than three-quarters of pediatric hospital beds are full” nationwide, with especially hard-hit areas seeing occupancy at more than 90% of capacity. Continuing staffing shortages in combination with crowded conditions are leading to more young children being placed in “community and adult hospitals which may have limited or no capacity to care for children.”

The White House has said since Biden assumed office that the administration would “follow the science” in regard to the advice given by medical professionals regarding COVID-19. However, the calls for help with RSV have gone unanswered.

The administration refused to commit to declaring an emergency as requested by the letter and only said that it would “provide assistance to communities who are in need of help on a case-by-case basis.” The equivocal response also told people to avoid contact with the sick and to “stay up to date on their flu and COVID-19 vaccines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.”

Even though there is no vaccine for RSV, Biden said in his typically confused fashion last month that in response to a “rise in the flu and RSV” among young children he is doing his part to make “these updated vaccines” available for free.