More Than 1 Million Kids Were Infected with COVID Last Week

Of the 10.6 million pediatric COVID-19 cases reported since the start of the pandemic, 2 million of them have occurred in the last two weeks

Doctor’s hands in protection gloves putting COVID-19 test swab into kid’s mouth in hospital
Child getting tested for COVID. Photo: Getty Images

More than 1 million kids were infected with COVID-19 in the United States last week, the American Academy for Pediatrics reported Tuesday.

In the week ending Jan. 20, just under 1,151,000 new pediatric cases were reported nationwide, a 17% increase from the week before, which had already been a record at more than 981,000.

Cases have nearly doubled in the last two weeks with omicron spreading wildly through the U.S. Of the 10.6 million pediatric COVID-19 cases reported in the country since the start of the pandemic, 2 million of them have now come in the last two weeks. And more than half of those cases, 5.6 million, have just been since September 2021.

The hospitalization rate, though, is finally starting to drop. The vast majority of kids who test positive for COVID-19 do not get sick enough to require hospitalization, but the rate had been at 0.8% of all cases since early October. The week ending Jan. 20 is the first time it has dropped down to 0.7%.

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The Centers for Disease Control has said that though pediatric COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have gone up during the omicron surge, it doesn't mean kids are more susceptible to this variant. It likely has more to do with omicron's contagiousness, the the low vaccination rates for kids 5 and up, and that children under 5 aren't yet eligible for a vaccine.

"This very well may be just the fact that there are more cases out there, and our children are more vulnerable when there are more cases around them," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a press briefing on Jan. 7. "We have not yet seen a signal that there is any increased severity with this variant."

Health experts are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19, but rates are staying low. As of Jan. 25, 55.4% of kids aged 12 to 18 are fully vaccinated, and only 20.3% of those 5 to 11, according to the CDC.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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