Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

A surge among children

Jonathan WolfeAmelia Nierenberg

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Credit…The New York Times

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Credit…Alfonso Duran for The New York Times

Coronavirus cases among children are surging across the U.S., with some doctors seeing more critically ill pediatric patients than at any other point during the pandemic.

From July 22 to July 29, the number of new cases in children nearly doubled to around 72,000, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and children now make up around 20 percent of all cases in the U.S. The number of children entering the hospital with Covid has also been climbing, nearly matching the level from the pandemic’s peak in January.

Some of the biggest surges have come in places where the Delta variant is spreading quickly: In Louisiana, nearly 3,500 children tested positive in just a few days, and the average age of pediatric patients dropped to just 5 years old.

These numbers have sparked concerns that what had once seemed like the smallest of silver linings — that Covid-19 mostly spared children — might be changing. But the details are murky.

Most children with Covid-19 have mild symptoms, and there is not yet enough evidence to conclude that Delta causes more severe disease in children than other variants do, scientists told our colleague Emily Antes. What is clear is that a confluence of factors — including Delta’s contagiousness and the fact that people under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated — is sending more children to the hospital.

Most children who contract Covid have relatively mild symptoms, such as runny noses, congestion, coughs or fevers. But a small share of children, especially those with pre-existing conditions, develop severe disease, showing up at the hospital with pneumonia or in respiratory distress. Others develop lingering neurological, physical or psychiatric symptoms, known as “long Covid.”

Now, as cases surge, families of high-risk children are growing increasingly terrified. A growing number are sharing their stories online, accompanied by desperate cries for people to get vaccinated.

“We’re just pleading, begging people to get vaccinated and wear their mask for the sake of our children,” said Elena Hung, of Silver Spring, Md., whose daughter Xiomara, 7, has heart issues and chronic lung and kidney disease and breathes through a tracheotomy.

Many parents say they are angry and exhausted from trying to keep their children safe while balancing the emotional trauma of more than a year of isolation — with no end in sight.

“There literally are not words for the frustration but also the fury that I feel that this has gone on as long as it has,” said Alison Chandra, whose high-risk 7-year-old recently tested positive. “It didn’t have to be this way. It didn’t.”


The Pentagon will seek to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “no later” than next month, the Biden administration announced today.

Officials initially had said the shots could be required by the end of August to help stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. But they decided to wait another month, bowing to White House concerns about putting a mandate in place before the F.D.A. granted full approval for the vaccine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he would speed up the mandate timeline if the F.D.A. approved the vaccine before the middle of September, which it plans to do. In a memo, he wrote: “Get the shot. Stay healthy. Stay ready.”

Of the 1,336,000 active-duty members of the military, about 64 percent are fully vaccinated.


Since the pandemic upended life last year, workdays have been very different for those of us who have been told to avoid the office. Some of it has been positive, offering more time with loved ones instead of commuting. Other times, remote work can feel isolating, and Zoom fatigue can leave us feeling depleted and unfulfilled.

  • Thailand, Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines are facing their biggest coronavirus waves in months.

  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, said that a state law he signed banning mask mandates was a mistake.

  • More than one million children who had been expected to enroll in public schools in the U.S. last year did not show up — either in person or online — including 340,000 kindergarten students.

  • Chinese authorities are planning elaborate precautions for the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which is just six months away.

  • The Washington Post profiled a woman who lost her husband to Covid-19, and then — without his salary — lost her house.

  • The Wall Street Journal explored vaccine hesitancy in an Arkansas town. One nurse lost both of her unvaccinated parents to the disease, but still won’t get a shot.


We started a fast casual restaurant in Greenville, S.C., in 2018 and that has now grown to three restaurants. To try to be good corporate citizens, we offered our staff members $25 Visa cards if they showed proof of vaccination. Almost 20 staff members (about half) have taken advantage of that offer. I have been distressed, though, by some of the responses I received from other staff. We have laws about drinking and driving because data has shown that driving impaired is more likely to cause harm to ourselves and other innocent third parties. I don’t think that is controversial. So why is it so controversial that we should all be good citizens and get vaccinated so we don’t inadvertently do harm to others?

— Allan Robins, Lavonia, Ga.

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Jonathan Wolfe and Amelia Nierenberg