More than 97,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, underscoring the difficulty for schools considering if or how they can reopen in the fall, according to a new report.
The findings, compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, included data from 49 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. But the report didn’t include complete data from Texas — which has seen a surge in cases — or parts of New York, meaning the number of infections could be higher.
Officials have long warned that the true coronavirus toll may be much higher than reported due to insufficient testing and the lack of symptoms in many people who are infected.
The U.S. has seen more than 5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Of those, more than 338,000 were children, according to the new study. The results from the last weeks of July show that one-fourth of all of the confirmed infections in kids happened during that two-week period, even though the pandemic has been raging since March. (Those defined as children in the study usually are younger than 19, although some states included people up to age 24.)
The data adds to growing concern for parents and students as the start of the school year approaches. Many schools and colleges have said they will operate remotely or with an in-person and online hybrid. But other districts have faced pressure from to reopen as soon as possible, including from President Donald Trump.
Some schools have already resumed in-person classes, to mixed results. A high school in Georgia sparked controversy last week after photos showed dozens of students crowding a hallway between classes, many without masks. The school said it would move temporarily online on Sunday after officials said nine people had tested positive for COVID-19.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that schools across the state would be allowed to reopen in the fall based on individual regions’ infection rates.
“New York State is in the best possible situation right now. If anybody can open schools, we can open schools. We do masks, we do social distancing, we’ve kept that infection rate down, and we can bring the same level of intelligence to the school reopening that we brought to the economic reopening,” the governor said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said evidence shows children are at lower risk from developing severe cases of COVID-19. But the agency warned that a coronavirus-repeated condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children disproportionately impacted Black and Hispanic children.
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