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More Children Tested Positive For Covid Last Week Than Ever Before

Children made up 26.8% of weekly reported Covid-19 cases from August 26 to September 2.

More children have contracted Covid-19 in the United States last week than at any other time during the pandemic. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association, more than 250,000 children were reported to have tested positive for the virus between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, making it the worst week for pediatric Covid cases since the pandemic began.

Roughly 40 million people in the United States are reported to have contracted Covid-19 since the pandemic first started some 18 months ago, and children, unfortunately, have begun to account for an increasingly larger percentage of the country’s weekly cases. According to the AAP, children accounted for 26.8% of recorded Covid-19 cases last week while the week before they represented 22.4% of weekly recorded cases.

Overall, more than 5 million children in the United States have tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic began, data from the AAP has shown. As a result, children make up roughly 15.1% of all the recorded Covid-19 cases in the country.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hospitalization rates among children have also risen in recent weeks. Data released by the CDC on Friday showed Covid-19-related hospitalization rates among children and adolescents were nearly five times higher for the week ending Aug. 14 than for the week ending June 26. When looking at specific age groups, the CDC found the weekly hospitalization rate for children aged 0 to 4 years old and adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old were both roughly 10 times higher the week ending Aug. 14 than it was the week ending June 26.

As case numbers surge across the country, fewer and fewer states have managed to keep children, the majority of whom remain ineligible for a vaccine, protected. In fact, of the 49 states that provide age data on Covid-19 cases to the AAP, only three states reported recording fewer than 10,000 pediatric cases last week. In contrast, 11 states reported more than 150,000 pediatric cases.

What’s more, the spike in recorded pediatric Covid-19 cases has also caused major challenges to parents and educators in a number of states. According to USA Today, at least 1,000 K-12 schools located across 35 different states have already closed to in-person learning (be it for one day or several weeks) as a result of surging Covid-19 cases.

Last month, the AAP urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to quickly approve a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine for kids under the age of 12, noting a surge of cases tied to the Delta variant had changed the risk-benefit analysis of a vaccine for children. “The higher proportion of cases in this population means this age group could be contributing in driving continued spread of COVID-19,” the AAP cautioned the FDA in its letter. “Sadly, over 350 children have died of COVID since the start of pandemic and millions of children have been negatively impacted by missed schooling, social isolation, and in too many cases, the death of parents and other caregivers.”

Despite the rise in pediatric Covid-19 cases, regulators and experts have so far suggested approval of a kid's Covid-19 vaccine is likely still months away.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.