COVID-19 cases ris­ing among US chil­dren as schools re­open

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - INTERNATIO­NAL -

NEW YORK, United States (AP) — Af­ter prey­ing heav­ily on the el­derly in the spring, the coro­n­avirus is in­creas­ingly in­fect­ing Amer­i­can chil­dren and teens in a trend au­thor­i­ties say ap­pears driven by school re­open­ings and the re­sump­tion of sports, play­dates and other ac­tiv­i­ties.

Chil­dren of all ages now make up 10 per cent of all US cases, up from two per cent in April, the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics re­ported yes­ter­day. And the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion said Mon­day that the in­ci­dence of COVID-19 in school-age chil­dren be­gan ris­ing in early Septem­ber as many young­sters re­turned to their class­rooms.

About two times more teens were in­fected than younger chil­dren, the CDC re­port said.

Most in­fected chil­dren have mild cases; hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions and death rates are much lower than in adults.

Dr Sally Goza, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics, said the ris­ing num­bers are a big con­cern and un­der­score the im­por­tance of masks, hand-wash­ing, so­cial dis­tanc­ing and other pre­cau­tions.

“While chil­dren gen­er­ally don’t get as sick with the coro­n­avirus as adults, they are not im­mune and there is much to learn about how eas­ily they can trans­mit it to oth­ers,’’ she said in a state­ment.

The CDC re­port did not in­di­cate where or how the chil­dren be­came in­fected.

Pub­lic health ex­perts say the uptick prob­a­bly re­flects an in­creas­ing spread of the virus in the larger com­mu­nity. And they say many school-age chil­dren who are get­ting sick may not be get­ting in­fected in class­rooms, where face cov­er­ings and other preven­tive mea­sures are of­ten in place.

Just as cases in col­lege stu­dents have been linked to par­ty­ing and bars, chil­dren may be con­tract­ing the virus at play­dates, sleep­overs, sports and other ac­tiv­i­ties where pre­cau­tions aren’t be­ing taken, said Dr Leana Wen, a pub­lic health spe­cial­ist at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity.

“Un­der­stand­ably, there is quar­an­tine fa­tigue,’’ Wen said. Many peo­ple have a sense that if schools are re­open­ing, then other ac­tiv­i­ties can re­sume too, “but ac­tu­ally the op­po­site is true”.

Global school stud­ies sug­gest in-per­son learn­ing can be safe when trans­mis­sion rates in the

larger com­mu­nity are low, the CDC re­port said.

Mis­sis­sippi is among states where sev­eral out­breaks among stu­dents and teach­ers have been re­ported since in-per­son classes re­sumed in Au­gust.

Kathy Wil­lard said she had mixed feel­ings when her grand­son’s fourth grade class in Ox­ford was sent home for two weeks af­ter sev­eral teach­ers and one stu­dent tested pos­i­tive for the virus. The family doesn’t have in­ter­net ac­cess at home, mak­ing re­mote learn­ing a chal­lenge.

“It was a hard­ship. There’s al­ways a worry about him fall­ing be­hind or not get­ting ac­cess to what he needs for school,” Wil­lard said. “But at the same time, I’m glad the school is do­ing what they can to pro­tect our kids.”

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