Outbreaks in schools due to high community transmission and the lack of preventive measures, such as requiring face masks, have contributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases in kids.
Health experts said that while specific age groups' cases are starting to plateau or dip by three to seven percent a week, the COVID-19 cases in kids will keep rising if schools won't implement mitigating measures or a larger part of the community has been fully vaccinated.
In an interview with USA Today, Jason Salemi of the University of South Florida College of Public Health said that cases are becoming "more pronounced" among the children because most are in school full time. As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed orders banning schools from issuing mask mandates, some school districts have decided to close so soon after the opening of classes as thousands of kids have to be isolated or quarantined to prevent virus transmissions.
Rising COVID-19 Cases in Kids Across U.S.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association said that there were 180,000 cases of school children with COVID-19 across the U.S. in the week ending August 19. This has been a significant rise from the cases at the end of July, which was at 38,000.
The experts also noted that over 22 percent of the cases in hospitals in August involved children, which ticked up from 3.6 percent from the previous month. On the other hand, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that pediatric cases now average 303 hospital admissions per day compared to a year ago.
Mayo Clinic pediatrician Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin said that the reality at the hospitals is scary and concerning as many children are left unprotected from the virus. While kids are more resilient against COVID-19 symptoms than adults, some can still end up with severe manifestations requiring admission to the intensive care unit. In rare cases, some children develop an inflammatory syndrome called MIS-C.
Based on records from various public health services, states with the highest spike in COVID-19 cases in kids are Oklahoma, Ohio, Louisiana, and Kentucky. The CDC noted that the vaccination rates for these areas are below the nation's average rate.
"Contagiousness can be curbed by achieving higher and higher vaccination rates," San Francisco pediatrician Dr. Sunitha Kaiser said.
Low Percentage of Vaccinated
Nationally, the vaccination rate for kids has yet to reach an ideal rate. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved vaccines for children under 12 years old, kids 12 and older may have full immunization of either Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
However, based on the CDC, only 44 percent of children between 16 and 17 years old across the U.S. have been double jabbed, while 34 percent of children from 12 to 15 years old have had their COVID-19 shots. Dr. Paul Offit of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said that health officials should keep persuading unvaccinated adults to get the jab because they will also make the choices for their kids.
In the meantime, schools with kids who are not yet eligible for vaccination must adhere to COVID-19 safety measures. Dr. Andi Shane of the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta told USA Today that they've opened schools in Georgia for the last three weeks but have not had any spikes in COVID-19 cases in kids due to masking school children vaccinating eligible individuals.
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