As Schools Reopen, Doctors Warn Coronavirus Risk for Children Is Growing

NEW YORK -
A child grimaces as a health worker takes a nasal swab sample for COVID- 19 testing. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

As parents pack up the lunchboxes and backpacks and teachers hang up posters and give out name tags, doctors are raising the alarm that not only are coronavirus cases among children and teenagers growing, the hospitalization and death rates are increasing.

The New York Times reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics compiled information from May to August as coronavirus cases in the South and West exploded and found the rates of cases and complications were rising among children and teenagers at a higher rate than adults.

While minors are less likely to catch and suffer from the disease than adults, as caseloads and testing steadily increased throughout the country, so did the number of children becoming sick.

Dr. Sean O’Leary, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ vice chairman of the Infectious Diseases Committee, warned that children and teenagers are being infected at a higher rate over the summer than earlier in the pandemic, and hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing.

In May the percentage of cases in America in minors was 5%, but by August the percentage was 9%.

“Anyone who has been on the front lines of this pandemic in a children’s hospital can tell you we’ve taken care of lots of kids that are very sick,” Dr. O’Leary told the Times. “Yes, it’s less severe in children than adults, but it’s not completely benign.”

Th rise in young people contracting the coronavirus dovetails with the beginning of the school year, and many health professionals are concerned that schools could drive new outbreaks among the students and the staff, who would then take the disease home to spread amongst their families and neighbors.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend schools reopen, and urged Congress to provide funds for school districts to have the necessary testing and safety precautions in place.