The Atlantic Daily: A New Pandemic Reality for America’s Kids

Delta is driving pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations to their highest point yet in the pandemic. What do we do about America’s unvaccinated children?

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Child in classroom wearing a mask
Ben Hasty / MediaNews Group / Getty

Delta continues to bear down on America’s unvaccinated, and that includes 50 million kids. Nationwide, coronavirus cases are spiking to levels not seen since the winter, while children younger than 12 are still ineligible to get their shots. Though they remain less likely to get sick overall, kids are among those ending up in hospital beds.

Pediatric hospitalizations are at their highest point in the pandemic.

Intensive-care units in children's hospitals are filling up around the South, our staff writer Katherine J. Wu reports. “This COVID surge, I’ve never seen anything like it,” one respiratory therapist told her. “It’s the sickest I’ve ever seen children.”

The timeline for an under-12 vaccine is still unclear.

What’s taking so long? If you’re eager to understand the intricacies of the emergency-authorization process, here’s everything that needs to happen before the country can start putting doses into the arms of tiny humans.

So what can you do in the meantime to keep kids safe?

The next-best thing is to vaccinate all the teens and adults around them, our staff writer Olga Khazan reports. Child cases appear to be rising particularly fast in states with low adult-vaccination rates.

An immunocompromised person stares out the window
Angus R. Shamal / Gallerystock

The rest of the news in three sentences:

(1) The FDA is reportedly planning to authorize booster shots for immunocompromised Americans. (2) California became the first state to require all school employees to either be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. (3) The Taliban continued to advance in Afghanistan, raising fears that Kabul could eventually fall.

What to read if … you’re looking for practical advice on how to manage your risk in light of Delta:

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Improve your time management with some depressing but liberating advice.

A break from the news:

Rediscover a thought-provoker from our archives: Why are young people having so little sex?


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.