Facts Matter: Sotomayor exaggerated number of children severely affected by COVID-19

  • In a discussion of vaccine mandates, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor exaggerated the number of children severely affected by COVID-19.

    In a discussion of vaccine mandates, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor exaggerated the number of children severely affected by COVID-19. Associated Press File Photo

 
 
Updated 1/15/2022 5:39 PM

The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has increased rapidly over the past few weeks due to the spread of the omicron variant. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recently highlighted that while speaking about children but got some things wrong.

"We have over 100,000 children, which we've never had before, in serious condition, and many on ventilators," she said during a discussion about President Joe Biden's plan for vaccine mandates.

 

But Sotomayor exaggerated the number of children who have been hit hard by the pandemic, according to PolitiFact.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics reported child coronavirus cases have exceeded 100,000, few of these are severe and result in hospitalization.

At the time Sotomayor made the claim, 3,342 children were in the hospital for COVID-19.

For children under age 18, the rate of hospitalization is 1.09 per 100,000, compared with 2.76 per 100,000 for the next oldest group, adults 18-29 years old. The number increases in each age group, with adults 70 years or older showing a rate of 15.82 per 100,000.

Some of those pediatric cases involve other issues.

"Most of the COVID-positive kids in the hospital are actually not here for COVID-19 disease. They are here for other issues but happen to have tested positive," Seattle Children's Hospital critical care chief Dr. John McGuire told The Associated Press.

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No evidence Saget died from vaccine

There is no evidence Bob Saget died after taking a coronavirus vaccine, and authorities said it could be 10 to 12 weeks before an autopsy determines the comedian's cause of death.
There is no evidence Bob Saget died after taking a coronavirus vaccine, and authorities said it could be 10 to 12 weeks before an autopsy determines the comedian's cause of death. - Associated Press File Photo

Comedian Bob Saget was found dead in a Florida hotel room last week, a day after he performed in Orlando.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office, on Twitter, said there were "no signs of foul play or drug use in this case." The next day, the county medical examiner said, after an autopsy, the cause of death was awaiting "further studies and investigation which may take up to 10-12 weeks to complete."

Some social media users didn't wait for the results.

"Bob Saget died from vaccine complications in his hotel room, on the first night of his fully vaccinated comedy tour," wrote a Twitter user.

But there is no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine was a factor, according to PolitiFact. There have been no statements from his family or the authorities to support this, and a cause and manner of death have not been released.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

People attending shows on Saget's latest tour were required to show that they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Saget recently joked about receiving the vaccine.

"I went to the dumbest pharmacist yesterday and asked for my booster and he gave me a child's seat," he tweeted.

Control swabs are to assure accuracy

A photo that's been circulating on social media for nearly a year has shown up in recent posts claiming to prove tests for COVID-19 are being manipulated.

One post shows a COVID-19 test kit with swabs labeled "positive control swab," and "negative control swab," and includes the caption, "Picture taken secretly by a nurse on shift. Name not mentioned for obvious reasons."

But this claim misrepresents the purpose of the swabs, which are used to make sure the kits work properly, according to The Associated Press.

"Control samples are not intended to manipulate patient tests," William Anderson, a technical support specialist with ACON Laboratories, told the AP.

In the ACON kits, the swab labeled positive is precoated with a SARS-CoV-2 recombinant antigen. When that swab is tested, it should show a positive result. The negative swab should show a negative result.

"For any good assay you need both positive and negative controls. And it is not just for the rapid tests, it is for any test," Georgia Tech professor Loren Williams told the AP.

'Beautiful' photo actually a drawing

Social media users have been sharing an image that purportedly shows a photo of the Earth and the sun together.

A Facebook user posted the image, along with different-color heart emojis, and the claim, "Earth and the sun caught in a single photo. It's so beautiful."

But it's actually an artist's beautiful rendition of an exoplanet that was part of a 2014 news release from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, according to USA Today.

The NASA release was to announce the discovery of a new Earth-size exoplanet, which is a planet outside Earth's solar system.

"The image looks remarkably like an artist's concept that I worked on for a discovery announcement from NASA's Kepler mission of Kepler-186f in April 2014. The artist's concept of Kepler-186f is not a photo," NASA spokesperson Michele Johnson told USA Today.

The image in the social media post is identical to the image released by NASA, except it's rotated 90 degrees.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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