Children accounted for 15% of reported COVID-19 cases in the week leading up to Aug. 5, as the country witnesses a surge in hospitalizations and deaths associated with the disease, according to an analysis published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
More than 4.2 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, with nearly 94,000 cases being added last week, reported AAP. Child cases have steadily increased in the U.S. since the beginning of July after declining in early summer. More than 165,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported from July 22 to Aug. 5, marking a 4% increase in the cumulative number of child cases.
Children have represented roughly 14.3% of COVID-19 cases nationwide since the start of the pandemic. From July 29 to Aug. 5, there were 93,824 child COVID-19 cases reported in the country, making up about 15% of the weekly reported cases, the pediatrician group said.
Though severe illness from COVID-19 remains uncommon in children, doctors warn that much more data is needed to understand the long-term effects of the disease in young people. Among states reporting, children ranged from 1.5% to 3.5% of their cumulative COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to AAP.
The uptick in child cases comes as state and local officials grapple over precautionary measures for the school year. At least eight states, including Arkansas and Oklahoma, have banned mask mandates in public schools.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that requiring children to wear masks is a “small price to pay” to ensure they can go back to in-person learning. He encouraged parents to “think about masks in the way that they ought to be thought about.”
“This is not a political statement or an invasion of your liberties,” Collins told ABC News. “This is a lifesaving medical device. And asking kids to wear a mask is uncomfortable, but you know kids are pretty resilient.”