As states across the country move toward re-opening, more and more parents are returning to work. As a result, more and more children are returning to child care centers. But is it safe? Recent reports show that coronavirus cases are hitting child care centers throughout the United States, infecting both children and adults.
While health officials and researchers believe children are less susceptible to catching the novel coronavirus than adults, they're not fully immune to the virus. In fact, children's ability to catch and spread coronavirus has become increasingly apparent as a number of child care centers report COVID-19 outbreaks.
Earlier this week, Texas reported that 307 children and 643 staff members had contracted COVID-19 at 668 child care locations across the state, according to the Texas Tribune. As a result, Texas officials instituted emergency rules for child care centers on Thursday that included the reinstatement of previously repealed safety mandates regarding temperature checks and outdoor drop-off procedures.
But Texas isn't the only state to see children contract COVID-19 while in child care. On Tuesday, at least eight children and 12 teachers were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 at a child care center in Lake Oswego, Oregon, according to Willamette Weekly. Local public health officials told the newspaper the total number of cases traced to the child care center could be higher as positive tests had also been reported from family members. Since discovering the outbreak, the child care center has closed for 14 days to allow for professional cleaning, retraining of staff, and additional COVID-19 testing, Willamette Weekly reported.
On Monday, officials in North Carolina announced nine cases of COVID-19, two of which occurred in children, had been traced to a child care center in Greenville, WITN reported. A spokesperson for the child care center told WITN that all but one case had been asymptomatic and that all infected persons had been quarantined.
Positive COVID-19 tests have also been reported at child care centers in Indiana and Kentucky this week, resulting in the temporary closures of three different facilities, according to WEHT. At least one staff member at child care centers in Evansville and Newburgh Indiana, are reported to have tested positive for coronavirus while at least one child from a child care center in Hopkins County, Kentucky, is confirmed to have contracted the virus. All three facilities have been closed for cleaning and parents have been notified and, in some cases, urged to self-quarantine, the news outlet reported.
A study published in Nature Medicine in June found that along with being less likely to develop clinical symptoms, children and teens were half as likely to contract COVID-19 compared to adults 20 and older. However, despite their potentially low risk, it's clear that infections in children can, and do, happen.
So, while it's been well established that child care is a vital resource for families — along with helping working parents remove barriers to work, quality child care can help aid a child's development — it's important that states and providers take precautions when reopening.
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.