More than 1 million children in US have been diagnosed with COVID-19
More than 1 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the AAP, which is tracking data reported by state health departments.
In the 1-week period that ended Nov. 12, there were 111,946 new pediatric COVID-19 cases reported — larger than any previous week’s increase, the AAP said. It brought the total to 1,039,464 cases.
The count is likely an underestimate because children’s symptoms are often mild and they may go untested, the AAP noted.
“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over 3 decades, I find this number staggering and tragic,” AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, said in a statement. “We haven’t seen a virus flash through our communities in this way since before we had vaccines to measles and polio. 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 called on elected officials to take immediate action to “enact a new, national strategy to reduce the spread of the virus and address myriad harms resulting from the pandemic.”
“We need a new, nationwide strategy to control the pandemic, and that should include implementing proven public health measures like mask wearing and physical distancing,” Goza said. “This pandemic is taking a heavy toll on children, families and communities, as well as on physicians and other frontline medical teams. We must work now to restore confidence in our public health and scientific agencies, create fiscal relief for families and pediatricians alike, and support the systems that support children and families, such as our schools, mental health care and nutrition assistance.”
The pandemic has impacted children in many other ways, such as negatively affecting their mental health and disrupting their education.
Severe illness due to COVID-19 is still rare in children, but the AAP urged health authorities to do more to collect data on longer term impacts. It called for more research into the emotional and mental health effects the pandemic is having on children as well.
“We know from research on the impact of natural disasters on the mental health of children that prolonged exposure to this kind of toxic stress is damaging,” Goza said. “Most natural disasters have an end, but this pandemic has gone on for over 8 months and is likely to continue to disrupt our lives for many more. We’re very concerned about how this will impact all children, including toddlers who are missing key educational opportunities, as well as adolescents who may be at higher risk for anxiety and depression.”
AAP. Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report. Accessed Nov. 16, 2020.