What We're Reading: Historic Increase to SNAP Benefits; Booster Shot Timeline; Record COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Children

The Biden administration announces the largest permanent increase in SNAP benefits history; a potential decision timeline on whether to offer COVID-19 booster shots to Americans may be on the horizon; children hospitalized with COVID-19 reaches a new record high.

Largest Permanent Increase in SNAP Benefits History to Be Made

The Biden administration is set to announce today revisions to the nutrition standards of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, that will increase average benefits by more than 25% from prepandemic levels. Reported by The New York Times, all 42 million people enrolled in the program, or every 1 in 8 Americans, will receive additional aid, with average monthly benefits rising by $36 from $121 per person before the pandemic. This move marks the largest permanent increase in the program’s history

Decision on COVID-19 Booster Shots May Come in the Fall

As reported by The Associated Press, the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said yesterday that the decision on whether to offer COVID-19 booster shots to Americans could come this fall. Following the FDA’s decision to authorize an extra Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose for immunocompromised individuals, data from preliminary studies in Israel on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine indicate that the vaccine’s protection against severe illness has diminished among those vaccinated in January. If expanded, the booster dose could go first to health care workers, nursing home residents, and other elderly people.

Record COVID-19 Hospitalization Rates Seen Among Children

The amount of US children hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a record high of 1902 this past Saturday, with children currently accounting for 2.4% of the nation’s COVID-19 hospitalizations. Reported by Reuters, record highs in the number of patients newly hospitalized witg COVID-19 were also observed last week in individuals aged 18 to 29, 30 to 39, and 40 to 49 years. Notably, one-fifth of COVID-19 hospitalizations are in Florida, whose governor, Ron DeSantis, issued a ban on mask mandates in schools and across the state.