Children Now Account For 22% Of New U.S. COVID Cases. Why Is That?


The number of children contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is much lower than the record highs set at the start of the new year, but children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases in states that release data by age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s a statistic that may surprise many: Just one year ago, child COVID-19 cases made up only around 3% of the U.S. total.

On Monday, the AAP said children represented 22.4% of new cases reported in the past week, accounting for 71,649 out of 319,601 cases. The latest report, drawn from data collected through April 29, illustrates how children’s share of coronavirus infections has grown in recent weeks.

Experts link the trend to several factors – particularly high vaccination rates among older Americans. The U.S. recently announced 100 million people were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But other dynamics are also in play, from new COVID-19 variants to the loosening of restrictions on school activities.

It’s also worth noting that for the vast majority of the pandemic, the age group with the highest case rates has been 18 to 24 in the U.S., as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes.

To get a sense of what’s behind the rising proportion of cases in children, we spoke to Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the AAP’s Committee on Infectious Diseases. O’Leary is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital Colorado.


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