New figures showed that more than 61,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. last week, the highest one week spike among kids since the onset of the pandemic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), which released the data, said the surge in coronavirus cases across the country was affecting kids at an unprecedented level.
A school employee checks the temperature of a student as she returns to school on the first day of in-person classes in Orange County at Baldwin Park Elementary School on August 21, 2020 in Orlando, Florida, US. Face masks and temperature checks are
“These numbers reflect a disturbing increase in cases throughout most of the United States in all populations, especially among young adults," said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases.
Last month saw almost 200,000 new positive infections among children. In all, a total of 853,635 pediatric cases have been reported this year, representing 11.1 percent of all U.S. cases. In California, that figure stood at 96,978, representing 10.7 percent of all of the state’s positive infections.
The AAP noted the number of child cases was likely even higher as symptoms were often mild for younger patients and could go undetected.
“This is a stark reminder of the impact this pandemic is having on everyone – including our children and adolescents,” said AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP in a press release. “This virus is highly contagious, and as we see spikes in many communities, children are more likely to be infected, too.”
Doctors said that while evidence has shown that severe illness from COVID-19 was rare among children, there was need for further research on longer-term impacts, both on the physical health of infected children, as well as how the pandemic was affecting kids' emotional and mental well-being.
School children cast shadows as they arrive at Telfair Elementary in Pacoima, California. (Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
"Not only are children feeling the direct effects of the virus and becoming ill, but the pandemic has transformed their lives at critical stages of development and education,” Dr. Goza said, noting there were even greater reasons for concern in minority communities, where a disproportionate number of cases have been recorded. “I’m very concerned about the long-term harms that children may suffer, particularly Black and Hispanic children, who are suffering a higher number of infections.” she said.
Doctors also warned serious precautions should be taken as families and friends consider plans to get together for the upcoming the holiday season.
“We are entering a heightened wave of infections around the country. We would encourage family holiday gatherings to be avoided if possible, especially if there are high risk individuals in the household," said
Every week AAP and CHA release updated data on pediatric cases from reports by public health departments of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. “Child” cases have varying age ranges depending on the state. You can see the full report for an age breakdown and links to data sources.