The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported on Monday that, according to data compiled by the group and the Children’s Hospital Association from state health departments, the number of COVID-19 cases impacting children in the final week of October were the highest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic.
According to the data, more than 853,000 children have tested positive since the pandemic started with 200,000 cases during the month of october. In the last week of October (ending October 29), they saw 61,000 new cases reported.
“This is a stark reminder of the impact this pandemic is having on everyone — including our children and adolescents,” AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP said in a statement. “This virus is highly contagious, and as we see spikes in many communities, children are more likely to be infected, too. We can help protect everyone in our communities by keeping our physical distance, wearing masks, and following other recommendations from our doctors and public health experts.”
While severe illness due to COVID-19 remains rare among children, the agency notes that there is still not enough information (given we’ve only been aware of the virus for nine months) on the long- and short-term impacts of the virus on kids. Given some more concerning reporting on COVID long-haulers and the Pediatric Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome believed to be connected to the coronavirus, more children being infected with this virus (particularly those who might not have access to healthcare) is a deeply worrisome trend. The AAP also believes the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in children are likely underreported due to children’s symptoms being more mild.
“These numbers reflect a disturbing increase in cases throughout most of the United States in all populations, especially among young adults,” said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. “We are entering a heightened wave of infections around the country. We would encourage family holiday gatherings to be avoided if possible, especially if there are high risk individuals in the household.”
Experts with the AAP also note that the physical and emotional effects of the virus are another layer of concern, given the toll it is taking on their mental health and the mental health of their families:
“Not only are children feeling the direct effects of the virus and becoming ill, but the pandemic has transformed their lives at critical stages of development and education,” Dr. Goza adds. “I’m very concerned about the long-term harms that children may suffer, particularly Black and Hispanic children, who are suffering a higher number of infections. This includes not only children who test positive for the virus, but everyone in these communities who are suffering disproportionate emotional and mental health harms.”
For parents and community members concerned about the surge, Goza says that it’s crucial that policy members take the advice of public health officials:
“On every measure — new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths — the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction,” Dr. Goza said. “We urge policymakers to listen to doctors and public health experts rather than level baseless accusations against them. Physicians, nurses and other health care professionals have put their lives on the line to protect our communities. We can all do our part to protect them, and our communities, by wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and getting our flu immunizations.”
Before you go, check out the natural products we recommend for soothing your kid’s cold symptoms: