The number of children diagnosed with coronavirus has climbed 90% in four weeks while the number in hospital has increased by 70%, according to new figures.
As of July 9, 200,184 children had been diagnosed with the virus in the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported, and 1,948 were hospitalized.
But by August 8, those numbers had risen to 380,174 cases and 3,276 in hospital, due to a wave of infections that arose as states tried to reopen.
The figures will raise doubts about plans to reopen schools in the United States in the fall, after Donald Trump said children were “almost immune” to the virus.
Childhood coronavirus cases in the United States rose from 200,184 on July 9 to 380,174 on August 8, increasing by 97,000 in just two weeks
The study looked at data from 49 states as well as Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Data for Texas, the site of one of the largest outbreaks in the United States, was not available.
He found that cases among children had increased in recent weeks, increasing by 97,000 in the last two weeks of July alone.
The additional cases have occurred mainly in the southern and western United States, which have been hardest hit by the spikes as states attempted to reopen after the initial shutdowns.
While the number of children hospitalized with coronavirus has remained a small proportion of cases – around 2.5% – the figure has grown as cases have increased.
The number of children dying from the coronavirus was also a very low percentage of hospitalizations – around 3% – but showed the same trend, increasing as the number of cases increased.
On July 9, 62 children had died from coronavirus, while on August 8, that figure had risen to 90, an increase of 45%.
While neither of the two numbers has increased at the same rate as the cases, this is likely due to the fact that hospitalizations and deaths are generally late compared to peaks in cases.
The increase in the double digits shows that opening schools is potentially harmful if the risk of disease transmission is not properly mitigated.
Some American schools have already canceled plans to reopen, after a high school in Georgia where students were pictured crammed into hallways without masks was hit by an outbreak.
North Paulding High School in Georgia has reported nine new cases of coronavirus – six in children and four in teachers – after children were pictured crowding into a hallway
The school, which reopened classes on August 3, has now been forced to partially backtrack on face-to-face lesson plans as it deals with the outbreak.
Nine cases of the virus – three among teachers and six among students – were confirmed at North Paulding High School shortly after the photo was posted online.
Students returned to school classrooms on August 3, but have now temporarily returned to online learning.
Hannah Watters, the student who posted the photo, was initially suspended before the suspension was later revoked.
Donald Trump has pushed for all American schools to reopen by the fall at the latest, saying keeping classes online is “a terrible decision.”
In an interview with Fox News last week, Trump falsely claimed that “children are almost – and I would almost certainly say – but almost immune to this disease.”
When an excerpt from the interview was posted on social media, it was taken down by Facebook and Twitter for spreading disinformation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which produced the new report, previously urged politicians to prioritize getting children back to school.
But he warned that measures must be taken to preserve their well-being and that school leaders must be ready to respond in the event of an epidemic.
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 20 million on Tuesday, including more than 5 million in the United States – the highest total in the world.
The world has suffered at least 737,000 deaths from the virus, of which around 163,500 have occurred in America.