COVID-19 cases in children are up 84 percent in the past week, a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] reported on Wednesday, with 72,000 new instances of the virus reported as of July 29, up from 39,000 cases reported the week prior.
AAP said it had teamed up with Children’s Hospitals of America to help collect and share data about pediatric cases of the virus, which have been only 14.3 percent of the total cumulative cases, the study says. That share rose to 19 percent for the week ending July 29. Since the pandemic began, 4.2 million children have tested positive for the virus.
“That’s high and considering the fact that we are vaccinated now, what that’s telling us is that unvaccinated people are getting infected in higher numbers because the virus is more infectious with the Delta variant,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chief of the division of infectious diseases in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford Medicine and chair of the AAP committee on infectious diseases, told CNN.
“Our sense is because kids can’t get vaccinated, parents should clearly be vaccinated themselves, and if their kids are 12 and older they should be vaccinated as well,” Maldonado said.
The statistics are particularly concerning with millions of children set to return to classrooms across the country over the next month. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has made it illegal for school boards to mandate mask requirements in schools, even as cases surge in his state.
Meanwhile, the Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Wednesday he regrets passing a similar mask ban in his state as cases swell there. The governor now wants to amend the law to give schools the option to adopt their own mask requirements.
The study does note that “it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children.” AAP did say there is an “urgent need” to learn more about the pandemic’s long-term effects on children’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Among the 23 states and New York City reviewed by AAP, children’s hospitalizations made up 1.3 – 3.5 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations for the week ending July 29.
According to the study, children were 0.00 – 0.26 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, and seven states reported zero child deaths among data from 43 states, New York City, Puerto Rico and Guam, with 0.00 – 0.03 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death in those areas.
In total, 526 children have died from the virus, according to the CDC, and 10.9 million of about 25 million children ages 12 and 17 years old have been vaccinated with at least one dose of vaccine, according to CDC data.