A Spike in Pediatric COVID-19 Cases: Cause for Concern

July ended with nearly 100,000 new cases among children in the US. What does that mean for public and school reopenings?

The rate of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) cases among children in the US raised by 40% in the last 2 weeks of July, according to a recent data report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The bi-weekly joint report, which is formed by a collection of state-level reports from the best publicly available data from 49 states, New York City, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam, showed 97,078 new child cases of COVID-19 were reported from July 16-30.

The jump in new pediatric cases brings the US total to nearly 339,000, or an overall rate of 447 per 100,000 children.

Even more concerning is that the new data comes in just days prior to the beginning of the public school year, or the return of college students to campus.

Experts including Mobeen Rathore, MD, are very troubled by the new spike in pediatric cases. But they’re also unsurprised.

In an interview with Contagion®, Rathore, Associate Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Florida, and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Wolfson Children’s Hospital, explained how the recent laxed enforcement of social distance practices has driven significant risk for not only pediatric spread—but spread overall in the US.

This, along with a dangerous misconception that children are less likely or even unlikely to contract COVID-19, led to a predictable spike in the late summer.

“This is an equal opportunity virus,” Rathore said. “If it finds a susceptible host, it’s going to infect.”

Though data shows many children are not falling severely ill or are reporting asymptomatic cases, severity risk persists—Rathore cited recent data showing one-third of hospitalized children were eventually treated in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Rathore also discussed the most well established long-term risk of pediatric COVID-19: multiple inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).