Despite a new report finding that COVID-19 cases among children have risen by 90%, President Donald Trump continued to minimize the coronavirus' impact on kids on Monday. While speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump said he still believed children "do very well" with the virus as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association found that nearly `180,000 new cases of COVID-19 had been reported among U.S. children recently.
"Yeah, I think that, for the most part, they do very well," a White House transcript showed Trump said when asked if he still believed children are "essentially immune" to the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. "I mean, they don't get very sick. They don't catch it easily. They don’t get very sick and, according to the people that I've spoken to, they don't transport it or transfer it to other people — or certainly not very easily."
Trump said recent data regarding a rise in COVID-19 cases among children from the American Academy of Pediatrics had not caused him to rethink his push for reopening schools. Instead, the president went on to reiterate his call for schools across the country to reopen for in-person instruction, arguing that children made up "a tiny fraction" of COVID-19 deaths.
"They may have, as you would call it, 'a case,'" Trump said. "But it's also a case where it's a tiny fraction of death — a tiny fraction — and they get better very quickly." Trump went on to claim children have COVID-19 "for a short period of time" and that "the seriousness of it, in terms of what it leads to, is — is extraordinarily small."
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association's report found that in the four weeks from July 9 to Aug. 6, COVID-19 cases among children jumped from 200,184 to 380,174, leading to a 90% increase in child COVID-19 cases. While cases appear to be rising, the report concluded that "the available data indicated that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children."
Still, as research on the virus continues to evolve, public health experts are concerned. Dr. Sean O'Leary, the vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Infectious Diseases, told CNN that it's "not fair to say that this virus is completely benign in children." "We've had 90 deaths in children in the U.S. already, in just a few months," O'Leary said. "Every year we worry about influenza in children, and there are roughly around 100 deaths in children from influenza every year."
What's more, new research from Ann & Robert H. Laurie Children's Hospital in Chicago has suggested that young children may be just as likely to spread COVID-19 as adults. "This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare," lead researcher Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent said in a news release for the study.
Trump has previously come under scrutiny for spreading misinformation about children and COVID-19. Earlier this month, Facebook removed one of Trump's posts for violating the social media network's misinformation policies, as The Verge reported. In the since-deleted post, Trump told Fox News' Fox & Friends that children were "almost immune" to COVID-19, a statement that has repeatedly been proven false by researchers.
Despite an apparent surge in COVID-19 cases among children, President Trump has continued to push for schools across the country to reopen for in-person instruction. "I think schools have to open," the president said Monday. "We want to get our economy going. We have incredible numbers despite this. If we could get this going — I think it's a very important thing for the economy to get the schools going."
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.