COVID-19 cases increased threefold among school-aged children

Sept. 29, 2020

Recent evidence that monthly COVID-19 incidence increased approximately threefold among persons aged 0-19 years since May and was highest among young adults aged 20-29 years during July, suggests that young persons might be playing an increasingly important role in community transmission, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The percentage of positive test results in school-aged children also varied within and across HHS regions. Variations in percentage of positive tests might indicate differences in community transmission rates. School studies suggest that in-person learning can be safe in communities with low SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates but might increase transmission risk in communities where transmission is already high. 

Although mortality and hospitalization in school-aged children was low, Hispanic ethnicity, Black race, and underlying conditions were more commonly reported among children who were hospitalized or admitted to an ICU, providing additional evidence that some children might be at increased risk for severe illness associated with COVID-19. 

Acute COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) have been reported to disproportionately affect Hispanic and Black children. Implementing multiple, concurrent mitigation strategies and tailored communications about the importance of promoting and reinforcing behaviors that reduce spread of COVID-19 (e.g., wearing masks, maintaining a social distance of ≥6 feet, and frequent handwashing) can reduce COVID-19 spread in schools and communities. 

Monitoring trends in multiple indicators of COVID-19 could inform mitigation measures to prevent COVID-19 spread. COVID-19 incidence increased from March to July, and SARS-CoV-2 test volume and weekly percentage of positive test results among school-aged children increased from late May to July. During March through May, widespread shelter-in-place orders were in effect, and most U.S. schools transitioned to online learning. In June and July, when community mitigation measures were relaxed in some areas, incidence increased more rapidly. 

Children aged <10 years can transmit SARS-CoV-2 in school settings, but less is known about COVID-19 incidence, characteristics, and health outcomes among school-aged children (aged 5–17 years) with COVID-19. 

Since March, 277,285 COVID-19 cases in children have been reported. COVID-19 incidence among adolescents aged 12–17 years was approximately twice that in children aged 5–11 years. Underlying conditions were more common among school-aged children with severe outcomes related to COVID-19. Weekly incidence, SARS-CoV-2 test volume, and percentage of tests positive among school-aged children varied over time and by region of the United States. 

Weekly SARS-CoV-2 laboratory test volume among school-aged children more than tripled, from 100,081 tests performed during the week beginning May 31 to a peak of 322,227 during the week beginning July 12, then decreased to approximately 260,000 during August and rebounded in September; test volume was higher among adolescents than younger children. 

The percentage of positive SARS-CoV-2 laboratory test results increased for both age groups from May 31 and peaked during the week beginning July 5; percentage of positive test results then decreased among both age groups. Since August 23, the percentage of positive SARS-CoV-2 laboratory test results plateaued at seven percent among adolescents and continued to decrease among younger children. 

CDC has the report

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