At least 97,000 children in the United States tested positive for the novel coronavirus during the final two weeks of July, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association found.
The report was released as lawmakers and health experts around the nation grapple with questions about whether to reopen schools, which were shuttered in the spring when the coronavirus first began spreading throughout the country. Some Trump administration officials have aggressively pushed for a resumption of in-person classes, while others have voiced fears about how equipped schools are to handle potential outbreaks.
Roughly 338,000 children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the report, which includes public data from 49 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. The report noted that Texas only provided age distribution for a small proportion of cases.
Between July 16 and July 30, a total of 97,078 children tested positive for the virus, marking a 40 percent increase in child cases, researchers found. About 7 in 10 cases over that period were reported in states in the South.
Alaska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Idaho and Montana were among the states to experience the most pronounced increase in infected children, according to the report. Meanwhile, Arizona, South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana are among the states with the most reported coronavirus cases among children since the pandemic began.
The report noted that age ranges for children varied by state. Alabama, for example, listed children cases for anyone 24 or younger. Other states considered anyone 18 or younger as a child.
The mortality rate remains low for children, researchers noted. In states reporting data, between zero and 0.3 percent of child COVID-19 cases resulted in death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance in July saying that children are less likely to experience severe symptoms from the disease. But the evidence is still mixed about whether children play a large role in spreading COVID-19 to adults, a crucial question for teachers and staff that would be around students for several hours a day at reopened schools.
The new CDC guidance said that schools should reopen to at least some extent unless community transmission is high or uncontrolled.
Many school districts are planning to start the school year with virtual classes or a mix of in-person and virtual learning. New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoGovernors air frustrations with Trump on unemployment plans State aid emerges as major hurdle to reviving COVID-19 talks Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for coronavirus over two weeks last month MORE (D) announced last week that schools in his state could reopen for in-person learning due to lower transmission rates.
But concerns have persisted about how schools can properly adhere to health guidance.
A Georgia high school gained national attention last week after students shared pictures of crowded hallways on their first days back. Dr. Brian Otott, the superintendent for the Paulding County School District, said in a letter to parents on Sunday that the school would switch to digital learning temporarily after six students and three faculty members contracted COVID-19.