Leading pediatric medical professionals are asking President Joe Biden and the Department of Health and Human Services to declare an emergency over the surge of respiratory illnesses in children, including the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.

“Across the country, more than three-quarters of pediatric hospital beds are full, and many states are reporting more than 90 percent of their pediatric beds are occupied,” the Children’s Hospital Association, which represents more than 220 children’s hospitals, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents 67,000 children’s doctors, wrote in a letter last week to Biden and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. 

“These unprecedented levels of RSV happening with growing flu rates, ongoing high numbers of children in mental health crisis and serious workforce shortages are combining to stretch pediatric care capacity at the hospital and community level to the breaking point,” the pediatric medicine groups wrote.

The medical groups argued that they “need emergency funding support and flexibilities along the same lines of what was provided to respond to COVID surges.”