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How High Is the Infection Rate of COVID-19 in Kids? Open the Schools to Find Out.

August 15, 2020

Sending children back to school in person is truly an experiment in the spread of COVID-19.

According to this August 14, 2020, Center for Disease Control (CDC) update:

While children comprise 22% of the US population, recent data show that 7.3% of all cases of COVID-19 in the United States reported to CDC were among children (as of August 3rd, 2020). The number and rate of cases in children in the United States have been steadily increasing from March to July 2020.

The CDC continues:

Due to community mitigation measures and school closures, transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to and among children may have been reduced in the United States during the pandemic in the spring and early summer of 2020. This may explain the low incidence in children compared with adults.

And now, for the continued, school-opening experiment:

Comparing trends in pediatric infections before and after the return to in-person school and other activities may provide additional understanding about infections in children.

So, closing schools may have reduced the spread of COVID-19 in children, and now that schools are reopening, we’ll just have to see in real time exactly how high the infection rate in children will go. In its May 20, 2020, update (archived here on June 01, 2020), the CDC had COVID-19 cases in children 18 and under at 2 percent. The CDC continued to post this 2-percent infection rate among children in July, a statistic that surely seems to support the opening of school buildings for in-person instruction.

Now, based upon data from March to July 2020, the CDC notes that infection in children is higher than thought– and keep in mind that this data was collected at a time when many (most?) schools nationwide had either been immediately closed for in-person instruction or were closed for in-person instruction by the midpoint of the data collection (i.e., May 2020). Even then, the infection rate among children rose from 2 percent to 7 percent.

How much higher will it rise?

Sorry, America. You’ll have to wait for future CDC updates based upon your opening those school doors now.

There’s another layer: We still don’t understand COVID-19 transmission from children to adults, and particulary to adults exposed to large numbers of children (i.e., to the adults at the school), although there is evidence now that children under 5 years can carry a full viral load in their noses, with children 10 and older apparenly able to transmit the virus with the same efficiency as can adults.

Stay tuned for the real-time, school-opening experiment.

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2 Comments
  1. jake jacobs permalink

    Covid cases are shutting down schools after just the first week:
    https://www.nola.com/news/coronavirus/article_fa846258-de69-11ea-9a93-331f2419d108.html

  2. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    You are correct about this large-scale use of children and adults in an experiment that will produce more information about the spread of the virus in school-age children. But the experiment also implicates the many adults who teach in or serve schools, the families/caregivers of the students, and networks of people well beyond these. All are Trump/Devos/Republican guinea pigs.

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