In the last two weeks of July, nearly 100,000 children in the United States tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The speed and the scale of the infections — dozens of countries have not yet recorded 100,000 cases in total — further complicate the already daunting issue of reopening schools. In Georgia, Indiana and other states, some schools that reopened have already closed down again after new outbreaks emerged.
Recent research suggests that children can carry at least as much of the virus in their noses and throats as adults do, even if they have only mild or moderate symptoms. That has prompted fears that students who become ill at school may spread the virus to their older relatives.
But it’s not just older people who are at risk — in some rare cases, a child’s health can be severely affected. Nearly 600 young people in the U.S., from infants to 20-year-olds, have developed an inflammatory syndrome linked to Covid-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Most of the children required intensive care.
“I fear that there has been this sense that kids just won’t get infected or don’t get infected in the same way as adults and that, therefore, they’re almost like a bubbled population,” Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told The Times in July.
“There will be a transmission,” he said. “What we have to do is accept that now and include that in our plans.”