Coronavirus Cases Among Kids Hit Pandemic High After Summer Dip

According to data compiled by two health organizations, about 252,000 new coronavirus cases were reported among children last week. This marks the most significant number of unique pediatric COVID-19 patients in a single week since the pandemic began, and it comes as millions of kids head back to school.

This surge in pediatric cases between August 26 and September 2 represents nearly 27% of all new COVID-19 cases reported during that time, according to the weekly report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. The organizations compiled data from 49 states, including New York City, Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

There was a drop in child COVID-19 cases around the start of summer. Just 8,447 new pediatric cases were reported during the week of June 24, which is roughly three times less than the total reported last week. A case decline was seen among adults earlier in the summer, and pediatric cases appear to have generally risen and fallen with the number of cases reported among adults.

aap.org
COVID-19 cases among children (seen in dark blue) rose recently to their highest level since the start of the pandemic. Cases among adults (seen in light blue) have also gone up.

Geographically, the South has seen the highest spike in pediatric cases in recent weeks. Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi are among the states that saw the highest number of new topics between August 19 and September 2. California, the nation’s most populous state, has reported the highest number of pediatric cases since the pandemic, followed by Florida and then Illinois.

The AAP and CHA noted that their data was limited because some states no longer reported child hospitalizations or undercounting cases.

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Southern states have reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases among children over the past week.

As of September 2, more than 5 million children have tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.

More research is needed to determine the virus’s long-term effects on this younger population. Still, the AAP said current data indicate that COVID-associated hospitalization and death are uncommon in children.

“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children,” the organization said. “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effect.”

Over the past month, roughly 55,000 children have been admitted to U.S. hospitals with cases of COVID-19. Hospitalizations among children had been falling since January but abruptly skyrocketed at the start of July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

PATRICK T. FALLON via Getty Images
Plexiglass dividers surround desks as students return to in-person learning at a school in Long Beach, California, on March 24. Pediatric COVID-19 cases had dropped at the start of summer but are now again rising.

Both the AAP and CHA have encouraged all eligible Americans to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. Children become eligible at age 12.

Roughly 62% of people ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated in the U.S. as of Tuesday, according to the CDC.

Federal health officials have suggested varying timelines for when vaccinations may be available for those younger than 12. AAP’s president, Lee Savio Beers, said Tuesday that she expects vaccine trial data for children to be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for review by the end of this month or early October. The vaccine will then be considered for emergency use authorization.

“And so what that means is that once that data is submitted, the FDA will have a chance to look at it to determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and consider the risk-benefit for children,” she told NPR.

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Tyson Houlding
Tyson Houlding is a 28-year-old associate at a law firm who enjoys walking, writing, and learning new languages. He is creative and bright, but can also be very unfriendly and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian who defines himself as straight. He has a post-graduate degree in law.