Pediatric COVID-19 Cases Hit Pandemic High in US as New School Year Begins

Coronavirus cases surged among children in the U.S. last week, with 250,000 kids testing positive between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2

Children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.
Photo: Getty

Pediatric coronavirus cases are surging as children return to classrooms across the country.

On Tuesday, The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that about 252,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the past week, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2. The figure marks the largest number of weekly confirmed cases in the age group since the pandemic began.

After experiencing a dip earlier this summer, cases of the viral disease in children "have increased exponentially," the AAP said. For example, from Aug. 5 through Sept. 2, over 750,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported among kids.

Citing data available as of Sept. 2, the medical association added that children have made up 15.1% of total cumulated cases of COVID-19.

Students in Wendy Verrall second grade class make their hand into a smile to show they are happy, since their mouths are covered, during the first day of class at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, CA on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty

While most children who catch COVID-19 do not experience severe symptoms, a record high of almost 2,400 children were hospitalized with the virus between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, according to data from The Washington Post.

The AAP stated in their recent report that "severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children," but stressed the need for further research to determine possible side effects in young patients.

"There is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects," the academy said.

COVID-19 vaccines are not currently approved for children under the age of 12. While those 12 and up are eligible to receive the inoculation at this time, "vaccination coverage among children ages 12-17 years is lower than in older groups," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Wednesday, the CDC reports that 62.3% of the U.S. population 12 years and older is currently fully vaccinated. 64.3% of Americans 18 and up are also fully vaccinated, and 82.1% of Americans age 65 or older are as well.

The spike in pediatric COVID-19 cases comes as many students begin a new school year where mask mandates remain a divisive issue in some places. Texas — where Gov. Greg Abbott has banned mask mandates in schools — has seen the highest rates of children hospitalized with the coronavirus, per ABC News.

"We're calling this the fourth wave ... but it has certainly been by far the most impactful surge -- really hitting children and adolescents," Dr. James Versalovic, pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children's Hospital, told the outlet Tuesday.

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