As of July 16, the state had a total of 23,170 children aged 17 and under who had tested positive since the start of the pandemic, according to the Florida Department of Health. On July 24, that number rose to 31,150.
That’s a 34% increase in new cases in children in eight days.
And more and more children in Florida need to be hospitalized. As of July 16, 246 children had been hospitalized with coronavirus. By July 24, that number had risen to 303.
This represents a 23% increase in hospitalizations of children with Covid-19 in eight days.
During that same period, the death toll among children in Florida rose from 4 to 5.
On July 18, Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum died of complications from Covid-19, according to state health department records. The family of the 9-year-old girl said Kimmie had no known pre-existing conditions.
The surge in Covid-19 children’s cases and hospitalizations comes amid a heated debate over whether children should return to class this fall or whether they should continue distance learning.
They also directly contradict claims by US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that children are “disease-stopping agents” who “don’t catch it or pass it on themselves.”
South Korean researchers have found that young people between the ages of 10 and 19 transmit the virus as easily as adults.
And White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has repeatedly said scientists are still studying how quickly children under 10 can spread the virus, as many between them have stayed at home and away from their peers during the peak months of this pandemic.
But it’s not just the number of new cases and hospitalizations that are increasing in Florida. The test positivity rate in children also increased – from 13.4% to 14.4% between July 16 and 24, according to the state health department.
The test positivity rate for children was particularly high in Martin County (25.3%) and Miami-Dade County (19.6%).
But the state ordered the schools to be physically opened next month. In some districts this means sending children to school as early as two weeks. And it has parents, educators and doctors at the end of their rope.
“I understand the need to open schools,” said Dr. Andrew Pastewski, father and medical director of the intensive care unit at Jackson South Medical Center in Miami.
“Children need to develop, they need to grow, they need to learn, they need to develop social skills,” he said. “However, we are skyrocketing right now. I wouldn’t think opening during a wave was a good time. “