Over 97,000 Children Tested Positive for COVID-19 in Weeks Leading Up to Schools Reopening

The July data was revealed in a new report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association

children at school
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Over 97,000 children are reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus in July, just as schools across the country move toward reopening for the upcoming school year.

The data was revealed in a new report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association, which said there was a 40 percent increase in child cases in the last two weeks of July (July 16 through July 30).

Researchers compiled state-level records of COVID-19 distribution for the report, noting that age ranges for children varied by state. Some states defined children as only those up to age 14 while one state — Alabama — made its age limit 24.

The report also found that of the out of almost 5 million reported COVID-19 cases in the United States, 338,982 have been children.

kids at school with masks

The newly compiled data comes as schools across the country begin to grapple with coronavirus outbreaks among students and staff as they reopen for in-person classes.

Last week, the North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, went viral when one of its students shared footage of students without masks not following social distance protocols in the hallways. The school has since reported that nine students and staff members have tested positive.

"We have anticipated that COVID-19 would impact us as it has nearly every community, and the district has worked in partnership with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to proactively implement safety precautions and response plans," a letter sent to parents from the school read, which was obtained by ABC News.

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Elsewhere in Georgia, a second grader has tested positive for the coronavirus one day after attending the first day of school at Sixes Elementary in the Cherokee County School district. Similarly, Georgia's largest school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools, reported in early August that around 260 employees have either tested positive or been exposed to the virus.

And similar trends are emerging in other states. In Indiana, Greenfield Central Junior High School was notified by the county health department that a student had tested positive for the coronavirus within hours of its first day of school last week.

In Mississippi, the Corinth School District announced Wednesday that a sixth student had tested positive since resuming in-person classes on July 27.

Researchers and health officials are still trying to understand the effects of the virus on children and the role they play in its spread.

Some U.S. leaders, such as President Donald Trump, believe the virus doesn't pose a large risk to children. According to the new report, at least 86 children have died since May.

School districts are also exploring a variety of other options to move forward with the school year, like complete remote learning, bringing in students on a staggered schedule or providing a combination of remote and in-person classes.

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 CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org 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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