Both average daily COVID infections and hospitalizations among American children reached all-time highs in the same period.
Surging Child COVID Figures
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations among children have spiked at alarming rates in recent weeks as students all over the country return to school.
According to recent data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, over 250,000 child COVID cases were reported in the week ending Sept. 2 alone.
That represents the largest number of new infections among kids in a single week since the pandemic began. It also means that children accounted for over 1 out of every 4 new COVID cases reported in that time.
Surges and school outbreaks are especially high in states with low vaccination rates and bans against mask mandates.
For example, in Mississippi — which currently has the second-lowest vaccination rate of all 50 states with less than 40% fully vaccinated— nearly 19,000 students have contracted COVID just in the first month of the school year, and 15,000 had to quarantine last week alone.
In Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott (R) banned schools from imposing mask mandates, districts reported more COVID cases in the last week of August — before some schools were even open — than at any time in the last school year when masks were allowed.
Since then, a whopping 50,000 student cases have been reported in the last three weeks, and the state also recorded an all-time high in pediatric hospitalizations last weekend.
In fact, more children have reportedly been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas than anywhere else in the country.
Rising Hospitalization Rates Prompt Calls for Increased Precautions
While it is still true that children remain less likely than adults to experience severe infection or die from the coronavirus, the number of kids admitted to the hospital has now surged to the highest levels reported throughout the entire pandemic.
As a result, pediatric hospitals and Intensive Care Units in some states are being stretched thin — and specifically in states with low vaccination.
According to The New York Times, while the states with the highest vaccination rates have experienced “relatively flat pediatric hospital admissions for Covid-19 so far,” child hospital admissions are nearly four times higher in states with the lowest rates.
“Public health experts caution that the magnitude of childhood infections matters even if most cases are mild, because scientists are still working to understand the long-term impacts of the disease, including ‘long Covid,’ the presence of lingering neurological, physical or psychiatric symptoms after Covid infection,” the outlet continued.
As a result, experts say that communities — and specifically schools — should be encouraged to take more efforts to protect children through mask and vaccine mandates.
That effort is already underway in some places, like Los Angeles, where the school board is set to vote on a vaccine mandate for students.
However, it remains unclear whether other school districts will be persuaded to follow suit, or if Republican governors will stop banning districts from even having the choice.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (ABC News) (The Guardian)
NFL Suspends Three Tampa Players, Including Antonio Brown, for Faking COVID Vaccination Status
A Tampa Bay Times previously alleged that Brown had obtained a card that falsely claimed he had received a COVID-19 vaccine.
NFL Suspends Three Players
The NFL announced Thursday that it had suspended wide receiver Antonio Brown and two other Tampa Bay Buccaneers players for misrepresenting their COVID-19 vaccination status.
The suspensions will last three games. According to the football league, all three players have accepted the disciplinary action and will not appeal.
Brown has not played a game since mid-October due to an ankle injury. He, along with safety Mike Edwards, will be able to return to the field on Dec. 26. The league said that free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III is ineligible for the next three games if signed by the team.
“The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority,” the NFL and the NFL Players Association said in a joint statement. “The protocols were jointly developed working with our respective experts to ensure that we are practicing and playing football as safely as possible during the ongoing pandemic. The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL.”
The suspension comes weeks after the Tampa Bay Times reported that Brown previously obtained a fake vaccination card, which is a federal crime. The outlet was tipped by his former live-in chef, and the report included screenshots of text messages Brown allegedly sent inquiring about fake cards. According to the Times, Brown was willing to pay $500 for a fake card that said he received the Johnson & Johnson jab.
Players Allegedly Forged Vaccination Cards
Following the report, the Buccaneers released a statement saying it reviewed the cards submitted by players and found “no irregularities.”
According to ESPN, Brown brought the card to training camp but upon learning that he could get into serious trouble for doing so, opted to get the vaccine.
“Mr. Brown is vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate,” Sean Burstyn, an attorney for Brown, said in a statement. “The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make this most of this time by treating his ankle injury. Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in [W]eek 16.”
The NFL has not commented on the vaccination status of any of the suspended players.
The league’s statement said the team will not be fined over the misleading claims from Brown, Edwards, and Franklin. While the NFL did not specify how Edwards and Franklin misrepresented their vaccination status, several reports have indicated that they, too, had fake cards.
“We appreciate the league’s timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established,” the Buccaneers said in a team statement. “We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols.”
See what others are saying: (ESPN) (The New York Times) (Tampa Bay Times)
Prosecutor Considers Charging Parents of Suspect in Oxford High School Shooting
Law enforcement officials said the teenage suspect used his father’s gun to carry out the shooting that left four dead and seven others injured.
Charges Filed, More May Come
The Michigan prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the Oxford High School shooting said Wednesday that she may file charges against the parents of the suspected teenage gunman — a decision that would be highly unusual.
Law enforcement officials said the 15-year-old suspect used his father’s gun in the Tuesday attack, which left four students dead and seven others injured in the deadliest school shooting this year.
The teen, who was a student at the high school, was later arrested and charged as an adult for two dozen crimes, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, and one count of terrorism. He has pleaded not guilty on all charges.
Authorities have not yet identified a motive but said Wednesday that there was a “mountain” of evidence showing the suspect’s desires and plans to kill students at his school.
Officials recovered two cellphone videos the student had made the night before the shooting in which he talked about killing his classmates at the high school the next day. They also recovered a journal from the teen’s backpack where he wrote about his desire to “shoot up” the school.
A review of the suspect’s social media accounts also showed that he had access to a firearm. Some posts even showed him with the same type of gun as the murder weapon, a SIG Sauer 9mm.
While law enforcement authorities did not mention any specific posts, a screenshot from the teenager’s now-deleted Instagram that has been widely circulated includes a picture he posted on Friday of a hand holding a gun with the caption, “Just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9mm. Ask any questions I will answer.”
Officials have confirmed that the suspect’s father bought the gun used in the shooting four days earlier, though they have not said how he got the gun or whether it was secured in the family’s home prior to the incident.
In her remarks regarding possible charges for the boy’s parents on Wednesday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald argued that gun owners have a responsibility to ensure their weapons are secured, especially in households with young people.
“Those who do not do that should and will be held accountable, we have to do better,” she said, adding that she expects more charges to be filed against the suspect as well.
According to The Washington Post, adult gun owners “are almost never held accountable when children use their weapons to harm themselves or others.”
“That’s despite the fact that if children as young as 6 did not have access to guns, well more than half of the country’s school shootings since 1999 would never have happened,” the outlet reported.
More Details Emerge
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told CNN Thursday that two teachers separately reported concerning behavior from the student in the days before the attack, which prompted two meetings with school administrators.
According to the sheriff, the first report came the day before the shooting when “a teacher in the classroom where he was a student saw and heard something that she felt was disturbing.”
“They had a counseling session about it with school officials, and a phone call was left with the parents,” he added.
The second incident occurred on Tuesday, shortly before the attack, and school officials called in the boy’s parents for a meeting.
“A different teacher in a different classroom saw some behavior that they felt was concerning, and they brought the child down to an office, had a meeting with school officials, called in the parents, and ultimately it was determined that he could go back into class,” Bouchard continued, though he declined to provide more details about the behavior the suspect displayed.
A probable cause hearing for the charges against the teen has been scheduled for Dec. 13, and a preliminary examination hearing has been set for Dec. 20.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other news coverage, as they may contain these details.
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark Abortion Case That Could Overturn Roe v. Wade
If the high court agrees to strike down the abortion precedent that has been in place for decades, numerous states would be able to quickly ban the procedure in all or most instances.
Oral Arguments on Mississippi Abortion Ban
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the biggest abortion case in decades as part of a challenge that could overturn Roe v. Wade and reverse legal precedents for reproductive rights that have been in place for nearly half a century.
The case is based on a 2018 law in Mississippi that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for “severe fetal abnormality” but not rape and incest.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic sued on the grounds that the law was unconstitutional. Both a district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled against the law, and the state appealed to the Supreme Court.
When Mississippi asked the justices to take up its case in June of 2020, the state’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch (R), explicitly stated that the petition’s questions “do not require the Court to overturn” Roe, which was decided in 1973, or the subsequent 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In Casey, the Supreme Court ruled and reaffirmed that states could not ban abortion before the fetus can live outside the womb, which is generally around 24 to 28 weeks.
However, Fitch changed tactics after Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who personally opposes abortion, was appointed to a seat vacated following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, effectively solidifying a supermajority of conservatives on the Court.
In an apparent attempt to capitalize on the Court’s new makeup, Fitch filed a brief this summer asking it to overturn Roe when it ruled on the Mississippi ban.
Far-Reaching, Immediate Implications
As a result of the latent motion, if the justices rule in favor of Mississippi, the decision would have a devastating impact on abortion access nationwide.
Mississippi is one of many Republican-held states that have passed severe abortion restrictions that lower courts have struck down because they violate Supreme Court decisions on fetal viability.
Almost all of those laws are not in effect with the exception of Texas’ six-week ban, which the high court last month refused to block as legal challenges play out.
Notably, the justices could decide to uphold the 15-week ban but not agree to Fitch’s motion asking them to overturn Roe. Such a move would undo the precedent for fetal viability set under Casey and allow states to ban abortions earlier, but it would leave the 1973 ruling intact.
However, if the justices do agree to scrap Roe, not only would that decision create a path for more states to pass laws that limit abortions, it would also allow abortion bans to take effect very quickly in many parts of the country
According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, 22 states currently have laws in place that could be used to restrict abortion if Roe is struck down. That figure includes 12 states that have “trigger laws,” which would ban all or most abortions immediately if the precedent is overturned.
While the Court is hearing arguments now, it is not expected to rule on the matter until next spring or early summer, setting up the subject to be a major focus for the 2022 midterms.
Although Roe v. Wade is a constitutional matter, public polls have shown that support for the precedent has remained strong over the years — even as more conservative states attempt to impose increasingly strict bans.