In a new report, the CDC reveals that pediatric coronavirus cases are on the rise
All summer, parents, physicians, infectious disease researchers, educational experts, and even politicians have been debating one simple question: should children physically go back to school for the 2020-2021 school year? While many schools across the country have opted to start the year with virtual learning, in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, others have already commenced in-person learning. On Friday, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new information that might explain why outbreaks have already been reported in a handful of schools across the country: pediatric cases of coronavirus are “steadily increasing.”
According to the CDC’s latest report, children, who comprise 22% of the entire population, currently account for 7% of all coronavirus cases in the U.S. as pediatric cases increased over the spring and early summer. “The number and rate of cases in children in the United States have been steadily increasing from March to July 2020,” the CDC wrote in their updated guidance.
They also pointed out that the number of infections might actually be greater, due to the fact that many children are asymptomatic and therefore, are not tested. “The true incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children is not known due to lack of widespread testing and the prioritization of testing for adults and those with severe illness.”
They also explained that, while children “likely have the same or higher viral loads in their nasopharynx compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively in households and camp settings,” they are less likely to end up in the hospital. “Hospitalization rates in children are significantly lower than hospitalization rates in adults with COVID-19, suggesting that children may have less severe illness from COVID-19 compared to adults.”
Despite the steady increase in pediatric coronavirus cases, the CDC does acknowledge that “fewer cases of COVID-19 have been reported in children compared with adults” which they think is largely is due to the fact that schools closed back in March. “This may explain the low incidence in children compared with adults,” the CDC added.
Since reopening for in-person education, several school districts across the country have reported outbreaks amongst staff and students. The CDC seems to touch upon this, suggesting that once children are back in school, they should know more about the virus. “Comparing trends in pediatric infections before and after the return to in-person school and other activities may provide additional understanding about infections in children,” they write.
During the first week of school in Mississippi, one school was forced to quarantine 116 students due to an infection, though one of the most publicized outbreaks to date occurred in a Georgia school, shortly after a photo of the school’s packed hallways went viral. At least 35 people — both students and staff — tested positive and the school temporarily shut down for cleaning. It isn’t clear if or when it will reopen.