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COVID-19 Cases Rise Sharply Among Children as School Year Starts

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FRIDAY, Sept. 3, 2021 -- As the school year gets underway across the United States, new data show that COVID-19 cases among children are climbing.

Since the pandemic began, children have represented 14.8 percent of total cases, but for the week ending Aug. 26, that percentage jumped to 22.4 percent, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While child COVID-19 cases declined in early summer, they have "increased exponentially" recently, with more than a fivefold increase in the past month, according to the academy. Child cases went from about 38,000 the week ending July 22 to more than 200,000 in the last week. That rate was well above the average that has been seen throughout the pandemic, and the trend is concerning as the delta variant may pose a greater danger to children, most of whom are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines.

The academy collected COVID-19 data from 49 states, New York City, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Overall, the rate of child COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 26 was 6,374 cases per 100,000 children in the population. Twenty states reported more than 8,000 cases per 100,000. Tennessee, South Carolina, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Mississippi had the highest rates of child cases per 100,000 children, according to the AAP data.

There was one bit of good news in the statistics. "At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children," the AAP report concluded. "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 effects."

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Posted September 2021

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