As conversations on how exactly to safely send kids back to school this fall continue, a new report has found that COVID-19 cases in children are on the rise. In the last four weeks, pediatric COVID-19 cases in the United States have jumped 90%, according to a joint analysis from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.
In analyzing state-level data, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association found that 179,990 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in children from July 9 to Aug. 6, bringing the country's total number of child COVID-19 cases from 200,184 to 380,174. That jump equates to a 90% increase in COVID-19 cases reported among children over the span of just four weeks.
States with the highest numbers of child COVID-19 cases are currently California with 48,524 cases, Florida with 28,281 cases, Arizona with 22,180 cases, Alabama with 21,704 cases, Tennessee with 18,522 cases, Illinois with 17,859 cases, and Georgia with 16,427 cases, the report noted.
While infection rates among children appear to be on the rise, they continue to make up only a small portion of hospitalizations and deaths. For the 20 states reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations, children made up 0.5% to 5.3% of total reported hospitalizations, according to the report. Additionally, only 0.3% to 8.9% of child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization, the report found. For the 44 states reporting COVID-19 deaths, children made up between 0% to 0.4% of total deaths with 19 of those 44 states having reported no child deaths so far. Overall, 0% to 0.5% of all child COVID-19 cases have resulted in death. This data mimics earlier research, which found COVID-19 may be less severe in children than adults.
Although children may be less likely to get seriously ill as a result COVID-19, health experts caution that's no reason to discount their risk completely.
"It's not fair to say that this virus is completely benign in children," vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Infectious Diseases, Dr. Sean O'Leary, told CNN. "We've had 90 deaths in children in the U.S. already, in just a few months. Every year we worry about influenza in children, and there are roughly around 100 deaths in children from influenza every year."
News that COVID-19 cases among children have risen 90% in the last four weeks comes amid reports that one school district in Georgia has had to quarantine more than 800 students, teachers, and staff members after roughly one week of in-person instruction. Schools within the Cherokee County School District reopened for in-person instruction on Aug. 3 and by Aug. 11 more than 800 students, teachers, and staff had been quarantined, according to the school district's COVID-19 notification center.
In a letter to parents, Superintendent Brian Hightower said the district expected students and staff to continue reporting "presumptive, pending and positive COVID-19 tests every day" that schools continued to remain open for in-person learning during the current pandemic.
As more schools grapple with how to begin the new school year, rising COVID-19 cases among children surely complicates conversations over how to most safely welcome children back into the classroom.
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.