Roughly half a million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a new joint report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The report, which was released in early September, said that a total of 513,415 children have tested positive for the virus since the onset of the pandemic. It also noted that roughly 70,000 coronavirus cases among children were reported between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3, representing a 16 percent increase in child cases from the previous two weeks.
States including Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky saw the highest percent increase in child COVID-19 cases.
Cases among children remain rare, however, with the demographic accounting for less than 10 percent of the more than 6 million cases in the U.S. Children also account for between 0 and 0.3 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, with 18 states reporting zero child deaths.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children,” the groups said in a news release accompanying the report. “However, states should continue to provide detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality by age and race/ethnicity so that the effects of COVID-19 on children’s health can be documented and monitored.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association have been regularly releasing data on child COVID-19 cases this year. The latest report is based on health department websites of 49 states; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico and Guam.
The reports note that age ranges for children vary by state. Many consider children anyone 18 or younger, while states like Florida and Utah list the age of 14 as the cutoff.
The impact the coronavirus can have on children became a chief concern in recent months as school districts around the nation planned for the start of the school year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance in July saying schools should reopen unless the risk of transmission was high, though questions have persisted about the safest option for children and teachers.
Some schools have resumed in-person learning, while others are conducting classes virtually. More than 1 million students started school on Tuesday, with a majority of the biggest districts in the U.S. doing it remotely, according to CNN.
The AAP has pushed for all children older than 6 months to get an influenza vaccine before the end of October, noting the possibility of the coronavirus outbreak combined with the flu season.
“As a pediatrician, I am very concerned about the health of children and their families this fall if these two potentially deadly viruses are circulating in the community at the same time,” Flor Munoz, the author of AAP’s new recommendations, said in a statement Tuesday.