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Child COVID-19 Cases ‘Steadily Increasing,’ AAP says

In reporting states, children represent small fraction of COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths

August 17, 2021

More than 121,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. last week, but virus-related hospitalizations and deaths remain uncommon in the pediatric population, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Last week, 18 percent of reported weekly COVID-19 cases were from children, the report said. Since the pandemic began, children represented 14.4 percent of total cases, with 4,413,547 pediatric cases reported.

“After declining in early summer, child cases have steadily increased since the beginning of July,” the report from the AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association notes.

The AAP and Children’s Hospital Association collected public data across the nation about pediatric cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19.

Reporting on COVID-19 hospitalizations, mortality, and testing for children varied from state to state. The AAP report compiles available information about pediatric hospitalizations from 23 states and mortality from 43 states.

“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children,” the report notes. "However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects."

Among the key figures in the report:

  • Hospitalizations:  For the 23 reporting states, children ranged from 1.6 percent–3.5 percent of total hospitalizations. In total, 0.2 percent–1.9 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization
  • Mortality:  Among 43 reporting states, children represented 0 percent–0.25 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, with seven states reporting no deaths. In reporting states, 0 percent–0.03 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death
  • Winter peak:  The highest one-week total for cases (211,466) was reported during January

The new data from the AAP follows a report last week about COVID-19 vaccination trends for children. The AAP report indicated that 10.7 million U.S. children 17 or younger had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in people 12 and older. About 50 percent of Pennsylvania’s eligible children had received at least one dose of the vaccine, the report notes.

The AAP’s reports on vaccination trends and cases are available online.

HAP continues to monitor the public health reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and provide updates to members. For more information, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, HAP’s vice president, population health and clinical affairs.