From the Journals

Children’s share of new COVID-19 cases is on the rise



The cumulative percentage of COVID-19 cases reported in children continues to climb, but “the history behind that cumulative number shows substantial change,” according to a new analysis of state health department data.

Proportion of COVID-19 cases that occurred in children

As of Sept. 10, the 549,432 cases in children represented 10.0% of all reported COVID-19 cases in the United States following a substantial rise over the course of the pandemic – the figure was 7.7% on July 16 and 3.2% on May 7, Blake Sisk, PhD, of the American Academy of Pediatrics and associates reported Sept. 29 in Pediatrics.

Unlike the cumulative number, the weekly proportion of cases in children fell early in the summer but then started climbing again in late July. “In the last 8 weeks, children represented between 12%-15.9% of new weekly reported cases,” Dr. Sisk and associates wrote.

Despite the increase, however, the proportion of pediatric COVID-19 cases is still well below children’s share of the overall population (22.6%). Also, “it is unclear how much of the increase in child cases is due to increased testing capacity, although CDC data from public and commercial laboratories show the share of all tests administered to children ages 0-17 has remained stable at 5%-7% since late April,” they said.

Data for the current report were drawn from 49 state health department websites (New York state does not report ages for COVID-19 cases), along with New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Alabama changed its definition of a child case in August and was not included in the trend analysis (see graph), the investigators explained.

Those data show “substantial variation in case growth by region: in April, a preponderance of cases was in the Northeast. In June, cases surged in the South and West, followed by mid-July increases in the Midwest,” Dr. Sisk and associates said.

The increase among children in Midwest states is ongoing with the number of new cases reaching its highest level yet during the week ending Sept. 10, they reported.

SOURCE: Sisk B et al. Pediatrics. 2020 Sep 29. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-027425.

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