One year ago, children made up about 3.0 percent of the U.S. total of coronavirus cases. Today, children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases in states that release data by age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
As of the last week in April, according to new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children 18 and younger, accounted for 22.4 percent of new COVID-19 infections. The previous week, ending April 22, children made up 20.9 percent of new COVID-19 infections.
Looking at the figures overall, WTVR.com is reporting that more than 3.7 million children have been reported to have contracted COVID-19 and represent 13.8 percent of the more than 32 million Americans who have been infected.
Per the AAP, the good news at this time is “that it still appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children.” But the AAP also stresses that more data needs to be collected on the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children. This would include ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.
National Public Radio spoke with Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice-chair of the AAP’s Committee on Infectious Diseases. Dr. O’Leary is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital Colorado, O’Leary talked about the information in the AAP report.
Dr. O’Leary Commented on the rise in the number of children testing positive for the virus, saying that with the ongoing vaccination of older Americans, “Certainly, vaccination is playing a role in terms of the changing in the demographics of who’s getting infected.”
He also cited the rise in coronavirus cases in children since March of this year, noting that: “We are seeing more outbreaks than we had related to school and school activities. We’ve seen those all along, and we’re seeing a little bit more of those now proportionately than we had.”
“And I think that’s also due to a combination of factors. Again, the variants, but also more kids in the last couple of months are in an in-person school than they had been in prior months.”
The biggest point Dr. O’Leary makes is that while a COVID-19 infection in children is generally less severe, it’s still potentially a very severe disease. And that is a good point to remember.