New data is showing that more than 500,000 children in the United States have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the pandemic started, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association.
Children now represent nearly 10% of all coronavirus cases in the country, which has seen the world’s biggest outbreak of the contagion.
In all, there are roughly 6.3 million confirmed infections, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.
The groups noted that 70,630 new child cases were registered from August 20 through September 3—a 16% increase over the span of two weeks.
“While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities.”
The AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association compiled the data of children as reported by forty-nine state health departments, New York City, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Data from Texas was not part of the analysis.
Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, asserted that parents, teachers, and doctors need to be extra vigilant during this upcoming flu season.
The novel coronavirus and seasonal flu in children lead to similar rates of hospitalization, intensive-care admission, and need for ventilators, the report found. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 188 children died from the flu over the 2019-2020 season.
“This rapid rise in positive cases occurred over the summer, and as the weather cools, we know people will spend more time indoors,” O’Leary said in a news release.
“Now we are heading into flu season. We must take this seriously and implement the public health measures we know can help. That includes wearing masks, avoiding large crowds, and maintaining social distance. In addition, it will be really important for everyone to get an influenza vaccine this year. These measures will help protect everyone, including children.”
Like the CDC, the AAP is recommending that all children aged six months and older get a flu shot.
New research out of South Korea has also shown that children can continue to shed the coronavirus for weeks even if they never develop the associated symptoms or long after the symptoms have dissipated.
“In this case series study, inapparent infections in children may have been associated with silent COVID-19 transmission in the community,” the researchers wrote in the study that was published in JAMA Pediatrics.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn. Image: Reuters