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Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The number of pediatric hospitalizations related to COVID-19 hit a record high Saturday of 1,902, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported by Reuters.

"This is not last year's COVID. This one is worse and our children are the ones that are going to be affected by it the most," Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN.

A record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is also hitting other age groups, including those aged 18-29, 30-39, and 40-49, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although children only account for about 2.4 percent of U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations, the soaring rates among kids are particularly confounding because those under 12 are still ineligible for vaccines.

According to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, we have now reached the most dangerous point in the pandemic for children. The trifecta of largely unmasked, unvaccinated communities combined with the negligence of politicians (i.e., Republicans) defying health guidance has produced a particularly toxic mix for kids.

"As a result, we have made it harder for schools to stay open, we have made it more likely for children to be infected," Wen said. "This is a really sad reflection that children are having to pay the price for irresponsible adults and reckless politicians."

Heated fights over masking in schools have broken out across the nation, often in more liberal metro and suburban areas that reside in Republican-leaning states. Several larger metro areas in Florida and Texas alike have been battling the statewide bans on mask mandates imposed by their Republican governors, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, respectively.

After implementing new mask mandates as children return to classrooms, the Eagle County School District in Colorado said in a press release that its campuses would have a heavier police presence from the Eagle County Sheriff's Office.

"ECSD made the move in order to maintain five-day-a-week-in-person instruction. This should prevent the need for prolonged quarantines or transitions to remote learning because of disease spread," the release said.

Those quarantines are already playing out in districts across the country.

Within days of starting in-person instruction, more than a dozen school districts have already placed students and teachers under home quarantine, according to The Washington Post.

A review of local media reports by The Washington Post found that more than 10,000 students and staff members across 14 states have been exposed to the virus since school started.

Florida continues to lead the nation in hospitalizations overall, hitting a record 16,100 on Saturday according to Reuters, with more than 90% of the state's ICU beds in use (though not all with COVID-19 patients). Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are all reportedly approaching half of ICU beds dedicated specifically to COVID-19 patients.

Officials within the Biden administration are expressing concern over COVID-19 burnout, particularly among Americans who have followed the science, embraced mitigation efforts, and gotten vaccinated.

"I do think that many of those who did make that right decision to get vaccinated, are thinking, 'Gosh, I did the right thing but here we are, still in the middle of this pandemic 18 months later,'" Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN Sunday.

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Americans are currently experiencing one of the most peculiar public episodes of my lifetime. Amid a deadly worldwide disease epidemic, many people are behaving like medieval peasants: alternately denying the existence of the plague, blaming an assortment of imaginary villains, or running around seeking chimerical miracle cures.

Feed store Ivermectin? I've administered it to horses, cows and dogs. But to my wife? No thank you. It says right on the label that it's not for human consumption. But at least you won't die of heartworm.

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Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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