Clinical

COVID-19: U.S. sets new weekly high in children


 

There were more new cases of COVID-19 reported in children during the week ending Oct. 29 than any other week during the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced Nov. 2.

Proportion of COVID-19 cases that occurred in children

For the week, over 61,000 cases were reported in children, bringing the number of COVID-19 cases for the month of October to nearly 200,000 and the total since the start of the pandemic to over 853,000, the AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association said in their weekly report.

“These numbers reflect a disturbing increase in cases throughout most of the United States in all populations, especially among young adults,” Yvonne Maldonado, MD, chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, said in a separate statement. “We are entering a heightened wave of infections around the country. We would encourage family holiday gatherings to be avoided if possible, especially if there are high-risk individuals in the household.”

For the week ending Oct. 29, children represented 13.3% of all cases, possibly constituting a minitrend of stability over the past 3 weeks. For the full length of the pandemic, 11.1% of all COVID-19 cases have occurred in children, although severe illness is much less common: 1.7% of all hospitalizations (data from 24 states and New York City) and 0.06% of all deaths (data from 42 states and New York City), the AAP and CHA report said.

Other data show that 1,134 per 100,000 children in the United States have been infected by the coronavirus, up from 1,053 the previous week, with state rates ranging from 221 per 100,000 in Vermont to 3,321 in North Dakota. In Wyoming, 25.5% of all COVID-19 cases have occurred in children, the highest of any state, while New Jersey has the lowest rate at 4.9%, the AAP/CHA report showed.

In the 10 states making testing data available, children represent the lowest percentage of tests in Iowa (5.0%) and the highest in Indiana (16.9%). Iowa, however, has the highest positivity rate for children at 14.6%, along with Nevada, while West Virginia has the lowest at 3.6%, the AAP and CHA said in the report.

These numbers, however, may not be telling the whole story. “The number of reported COVID-19 cases in children is likely an undercount because children’s symptoms are often mild and they may not be tested for every illness,” the AAP said in its statement.

“We urge policy makers to listen to doctors and public health experts rather than level baseless accusations against them. Physicians, nurses and other health care professionals have put their lives on the line to protect our communities. We can all do our part to protect them, and our communities, by wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and getting our flu immunizations,” AAP President Sally Goza, MD, said in the AAP statement.

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