More than 1 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic as new infections surge across the country, according to data collected by pediatricians.
In a one-week time frame ending Nov. 12, 111,946 children were newly diagnosed with the coronavirus — “substantially larger than any previous week in the pandemic — and bumping the total number of kids infected to 1,039,464, the American Academy of Pediatrics said Monday.
“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic. We haven’t seen a virus flash through our communities in this way since before we had vaccines for measles and polio,” said Dr. Sally Goza, AAP president. “And while we wait for a vaccine to be tested and licensed to protect children from the virus that causes COVID-19, we must do more now to protect everyone in our communities. This is even more important as we approach winter, when people will naturally spend more time indoors where it is easier for the virus to be transmitted.”
The AAP said it believes the number of coronavirus cases is likely an undercount since kid’s symptoms are often mild and many might not get tested. COVID-19 has affected Black and Hispanic children disportionately and are experiencing higher infection rates.
While severe COVID-19 illness appears rare in children, the AAP is urging for research into the possible long-term effects of the virus on children. The academy also notes how the pandemic has adversely affected children’s health in numerous ways including worsening mental health, disruptions to education, reduced access to health care services and higher risk to abuse and maltreatment
Emergency room visits by children and adolescents for mental health problems have increased more than 24% during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Compared to last year, there were 22% fewer immunizations for children 2 and younger for other infectious diseases such as measles and whooping cough and 44% fewer child screening services, shows a recent data analysis by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Data are compiled weekly from reports by public health departments in 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
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