Biden administration ambiguous in response to pediatric groups' call for emergency over RSV

After pediatric groups urged federal officials to issue a public health emergency over the nation's surge in respiratory viruses, the Biden administration said it is "ready to provide assistance" to communities in need of help, though did not specify whether it would take emergency action, NBC News reported Nov. 17. 

The Children's Hospital Association and American Academy of Pediatrics called on federal officials to declare a national and public health emergency to free up resources and give hospitals more flexibility to respond to an "alarming surge of pediatric hospitalizations" for respiratory syncytial virus and flu. The Nov. 14 letter was sent to President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. 

The group said such declarations would allow for a waiver of certain insurance program requirements. They also requested funding to support increased costs, and for the federal government to prioritize rental and excess equipment for pediatric providers.

A Biden administration official in response said, "public health emergencies are determined based on nationwide data, science trends, and the insight of public health experts," according to a statement cited by NBC

The statement also said the administration is "ready to provide assistance to communities who are in need of help on a case-by-case basis." 

As of Nov. 16, 78 percent of the nation's pediatric hospital beds were full, with seven states reporting capacity levels above 90 percent, according to HHS data cited by the news outlet.

More than 26,000 RSV test tests were positive between Oct. 30 and Nov. 12, far higher than the number of positive tests over the same period last year. The CDC does not track national RSV cases, hospitalizations or deaths, as it is not a reportable disease. 

Read more RSV updates here

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