“It is a tragic reminder that this is a very serious and serious illness for anyone who contracts it at any age,” Heiman said.
Nationwide, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 45 deaths attributed to COVID-19 nationwide among people aged 14 and under as of August 1.
There have been more than 157,000 deaths from the virus across the country.
Georgia is one of 21 states with outbreaks severe enough to be placed in the “red zone” by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, according to a federal report obtained last week by The New York Times.
Georgia reported 3,182 net new cases of the coronavirus and 42 confirmed deaths on Thursday. To date, nearly 205,000 confirmed cases of the disease have been reported in Georgia, along with 4,026 deaths.
Georgia reported a week-over-week increase in cases in nine out of ten weeks, from early May to mid-July, when the state’s cases appeared to peak at around 25,000 per week.
The seven-day moving average rose from a high of 3,745 on July 24 to 3,230 on Thursday.
But this rate of new cases remains five times higher than on June 1. Current hospitalizations are down slightly from their high of 3,200 on July 30, but remain above 3,000, nearly four times the low point in early June.
Deaths, which often delay new cases by weeks, have also increased.
COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Blacks make up about a third of the Georgian population, but they make up about half of all deaths, according to data from the DPH.
The Chatham County child was black.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force report, which has been circulated to states, recommends a mandate for the public to wear masks in coronavirus hotspots and, “optimally”, statewide .
The task force report recommends that Georgia close bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues and limit dining inside restaurants to less than 25% of their capacity. Other recommendations include strengthening testing and contact tracing and weekly testing of workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
Governor Brian Kemp encouraged people to wear masks, but backed down from a mask warrant. He sued Atlanta over a mask requirement and the action taken by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to quash plans to reopen because they conflicted with his orders. Kemp also resisted the reintroduction of tighter restrictions on businesses.
In recent days, some school systems have returned to in-person teaching, and colleges are expected to begin the fall semester soon.
Heiman, the Georgia state professor and other independent public health experts have warned that school systems and colleges risk triggering a larger resurgence of cases by hosting in-person classes.
More than 2,000 medical professionals also recently wrote to Kemp asking the governor to promulgate a mask mandate and adopt tougher measures to stop the spread.
“We need to think very seriously about the policies and practices that need to be put in place to keep our children safe,” Heiman said. “This includes the recognition that given the current level of spread in our communities, it is not safe to reopen schools to in-person teaching.
“The reality is that we have to deal with this in a much more aggressive way, otherwise there will be more tragic stories,” he said.