Over half a million kids in the U.S. have tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
More than 70,000 cases were reported in children from Aug. 20 through Sept. 3 – a 16% increase over two weeks, according to the report, which is updated weekly. As of Sept. 3, at least 513,415 child cases had been documented, which equates to nearly 10% of the total cases in the U.S.
“These numbers are a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously,” Sara Goza, president of the academy, said in a statement. “While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities.”
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Goza also noted that a “disproportionate number of cases are reported in Black and Hispanic children and in places where there is high poverty,” saying more needs to be done to address social inequities.
States that saw the largest reported increases in child cases included Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
While President Donald Trump has claimed that “young people do extraordinarily well” against the virus in his push to reopen schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that children can develop severe infection from the virus.
According to the report, over 100 children have died due to the coronavirus.
Sean O’Leary, the vice chairman of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, said that as the weather cools and more people head indoors, people can take steps to protect children from the virus.
[ MAP: The Spread of Coronavirus ]
“Now we are heading into flu season. We must take this seriously and implement the public health measures we know can help; that includes wearing masks, avoiding large crowds, and maintaining social distance. In addition, it will be really important for everyone to get an influenza vaccine this year. These measures will help protect everyone, including children,” he said in a statement.