COVID-19 Cases in Children Nearly Doubled in Just 4 Weeks

Richard Franki

August 12, 2020

The number of new COVID-19 cases among children in the United States jumped by 90% during a recent 4-week period, according to a report that confirms children are not immune to the coronavirus.

"In areas with rapid community spread, it's likely that more children will also be infected, and these data show that," Sally Goza, MD, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a written statement. "I urge people to wear cloth face coverings and be diligent in social distancing and hand-washing. It is up to us to make the difference, community by community."

The joint report from the AAP and the Children's Hospital Association draws on data from state and local health departments in 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in children as of Aug. 6, 2020, was 380,174, and that number is 90% higher – an increase of 179,990 cases – than the total on July 9, just 4 weeks earlier, the two organizations said in the report.

The total cases for children represented 9.1% of all 4,159,947 million U.S. cases as of Aug. 6, compared with just 2.0% as of April 16, and 27 states out of 47 with available data now report that over 10% of their cases were children, with Wyoming the highest at 16.5% and New Jersey the lowest at 2.9%, the report data show.

Alabama has a higher percentage of 22.5%, but the state has been reporting cases in individuals aged 0-24 years as child cases since May 7. The report's findings are somewhat limited by differences in reporting among the states and by "gaps in the data they are reporting [that affect] how the data can be interpreted," the AAP said in its statement.

The cumulative number of cases per 100,000 children has risen from 13.3 in mid-April, when the total number was 9,259 cases, to 500.7 per 100,000 as of Aug. 6, and there are now 21 states, along with the District of Columbia, reporting a rate of over 500 cases per 100,000 children. Arizona has the highest rate at 1,206.4, followed by South Carolina (1,074.4) and Tennessee (1,050.8), the AAP and the CHA said.

In New York City, the early epicenter of the pandemic, the cumulative rate is now 390.5 per 100,000 children, and in New Jersey, which joined New York in the initial surge of cases, the rate is 269.5. As of Aug. 6, Hawaii had the lowest rate of any state at 91.2 per 100,000, according to the report.

Children continue to represent a very low proportion of COVID-19 deaths, "but as case counts rise across the board, that is likely to impact more children with severe illness as well," Sean O'Leary, MD, MPH, vice chair of the AAP's committee on infectious diseases, said in the AAP statement.

It is possible that "some of the increase in numbers of cases in children could be due to more testing. Early in the pandemic, testing only occurred for the sickest individuals. Now that there is more testing capacity … the numbers reflect a broader slice of the population, including children who may have mild or few symptoms," the AAP suggested.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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