US Tops 500,000 COVID-19 Cases in Children

Richard Franki

September 10, 2020

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The number of children infected with COVID-19 rose by 7.8% during the week ending Sept. 3, putting the United States over the half-million mark in cumulative child cases, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

States have reported 513,415 cases of COVID-19 in children since the beginning of the pandemic, with almost 37,000 coming in the last week, the AAP and the CHA said Sept. 8 in the weekly report. That figure includes New York City — the rest of New York state is not reporting ages for COVID-19 patients — as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Guam.

"These numbers are a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously," AAP President Sara Goza, MD, said in a written statement.

Children now represent 9.8% of the almost 5.3 million cases that have been reported in Americans of all ages. The proportion of child cases has continued to increase as the pandemic has progressed — it was 8.0% as of mid-July and 5.2% in early June, the data show.

"Throughout the summer, surges in the virus have occurred in Southern, Western, and Midwestern states," the AAP statement said.

The latest AAP/CHA report shows that, from Aug. 27 to Sept. 3, the total number of child cases jumped by 33.7% in South Dakota, more than any other state. North Dakota was next at 22.7%, followed by Hawaii (18.1%), Missouri (16.8%), and Kentucky (16.4%).

"This rapid rise in positive cases occurred over the summer, and as the weather cools, we know people will spend more time indoors," said Sean O'Leary, MD, MPH, vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. "The goal is to get children back into schools for in-person learning, but in many communities, this is not possible as the virus spreads unchecked."

The smallest increase over the last week, just 0.9%, came in Rhode Island, with Massachusetts just a bit higher at 1.0%. Also at the low end of the increase scale are Arizona (3.3%) and Louisiana (4.0%), two states that have very high rates of cumulative cases: 1,380 per 100,000 children for Arizona and 1,234 per 100,000 for Louisiana, the report said.

To give those figures some context, Tennessee has the highest cumulative count of any state at 1,553 cases per 100,000 children and Vermont has the lowest at 151, based on the data gathered by the AAP and CHA.

"While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities. A disproportionate number of cases are reported in Black and Hispanic children and in places where there is high poverty. We must work harder to address societal inequities that contribute to these disparities," Dr. Goza said.

Richard Franki can be reached at

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