COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among children are continuing to rise as the early stages of the new school year are struck by the Delta variant.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that 200,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 in the week of August 26, the second highest weekly total recorded during the pandemic.
Children also accounted for over 19,000 of the 812,000 hospitalizations recorded that week. While week-over-week totals did increase, it was at a much lower rate than the 50 percent increase from the previous week.
Twenty-three children also died from the virus, matching the previous weeks total, per the AAP report.
Cases and deaths around the nation have spike in recent weeks, with some states posting a record number of infections this week, though the overall growth of new cases has begun to slow.
Despite the recent rise in cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in-person learning is safe as long as schools follow the agency’s guidelines.
More than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 among minors were recorded last week, the second highest total ever, as the new school year gets underway
Minors are being hospitalized due to the virus at the highest rate ever, with 0.48 of every 100,000 people 17 or younger being hospitalized currently. More than 19,000 children were hospitalized last week
The data is revealed as schools around the country suffer from outbreaks and closures only weeks after returning to class.
Last week was only the second time that more than 200,000 children tested positive for the virus in the same week – with 211,000 positive tests recorded in mid-January.
It also a continuation of a sharp climb in cases among children, who had mostly avoided the brunt of the pandemic until recently
Cases among children have grown by 12 percent week-over-week, from 180,000 a week earlier.
Sine July 1, when the Delta variant-fueled surge first began, cases have increased 18-fold.
Hospitalizations among children have surged since then as well, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On July 5, 0.05 of every 100,000 American 17 years old of younger were hospitalized with a case of the virus.
Children are still unlikely to die or suffer major negative side-effects from the virus, though.
The figure has risen all the way to 0.48 out of every 100,000 at the start of September.
NBC reports that the CDC plans to soon publish two studies showing a disparity between child hospitalizations in areas of higher and lower vaccination.
‘Cases, emergency room visits and hospitalizations are much lower among children in communities with higher vaccination rates,’ Walensky said during a news conference on Thursday.
One study found that hospitalizations among unvaccinated teens was 10 times higher than it was for teens that were fully vaccinated.
The second study found that rates of child hospitalizations was four times higher in states with lower vaccination coverage.
An increase of cases and hospitalizations among children has created a problem for schools just getting the new year underway.
Tennessee schools are among the hardest hit.
The state, which is recording a record number of COVID-19 cases this week, has had 20 school districts elect to close this week in order to control outbreaks of the virus.
Florida has become a COVID-19 battleground, with state leadership and county level school boards warring over mask mandates and other pandemic related restrictions.
Gov Ron DeSantis banned mask mandates in schools in a move many larger education districts publicly vowed to disobey.
More than a dozen Florida counties have rebelled and voted to require masks to protect students and teachers as the Delta variant sweeps across the state.
This week, the state’s Department of Education sanctioned two counties that passed school mask requirements.
The pushback in Florida against the Republican governor initially was led by large urban school districts run by Democrats.
But this week saw more conservative counties that backed Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election also defying DeSantis and instituting their own mandates.
Earlier this week, populous Brevard County along Florida’s east coast, which went for Trump over President Joe Biden by more than 16 percentage points in November, narrowly voted to approve a 30-day school mask mandate.
A day later, Hernando County, which supported Trump over Biden by almost 30 points, also passed a mandate, but one that allows parents to opt out.
In Lake County near Orlando, which also strongly backed Trump, a school official said on Thursday that more than 1,000 students of the 36,000 in the district had tested positive for the virus.
A Florida judge ruled in favor of the school districts on Thursday, giving them a right to institute the mandates.
Schools in the Atlanta have been hard struck as well, with more than 23,000 students and staff being forced to quarantine in August due to the virus.
The CDC is pushing for schools to remain open but to follow guidelines the agency has provided them in order to prevent these kinds of outbreaks.
The agency’s plan is a implement ‘multilayered’ strategy in regards to masking, distancing and ventilation.
The prevention measures include vaccination for all eligible students and staff, masking, increased ventilation, physical distancing and regular testing.
Florida has become a battleground on the issue of mask mandates in schools, with many districts – both Democrat and Republican – defying Gov Ron DeSantis’ ban on mandates in schools. Pictured: Students in a Miami Lakes high school wear masks in the classroom
‘Schools should implement as many as these prevention layers as possible simultaneously,’ Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said during a news conference last week.
‘… we know these multilayered mitigation strategies work and thanks to the American Rescue Plan, schools have the resources to implement these strategies.’
The AAP has pushed for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to extend authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines to children younger than 12.
Dr Lee Savio Beers, president of the organization, wrote an open letter to the FDA last month, urging the agency to extend authorization to school aged children.
Not all agree with the AAP, though.
Across the pond in the UK, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ruled that children aged 12 to 15 did not need the vaccine, as the benefits to their health would be marginal due to the low level of deaths and serious side-effects the youth suffer from the virus.
The organization still does recommend the jab for kids with chronic heart, kidney, lung and neurological conditions in that age group, though.
In the United States, the country is averaging 164,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, the highest mark since late January.
Growth of cases is slowing, though, with only a 14 percent increase of new cases over the past two weeks.
A majority of states no longer report daily case data, though, so day-to-day changes in numbers are often incomplete.
Deaths are beginning to spike, though, with 1,500 Americans dying due to the virus every day – a 67 percent increase over two weeks.
In total, the nation has recorded 39.7 million COVID-19 cases and 645,383 deaths, the most of any country in the world.
More than 100,000 Americans are being hospitalized with the virus every day as well.
Around 62 percent of people in the U.S. have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 52 percent are fully vaccinated.