Number of children testing positive for COVID-19 continues to grow

Posted at 6:56 PM, Sep 09, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — More than half a million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a joint report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The “Children and COVID-19: State Data Report” analyzes state COVID-19 data weekly and provides a summary of the state of the virus in the nation. This week, the data revealed a 16% increase in child COVID-19 cases within a two-week period, with Kentucky being among the top six states for the highest percent increase as of Sept. 3.

Dr. Carol Steltenkamp, External Chief Medical Officer for UK Healthcare, explained one of the reasons more case numbers in children are being reported is because people are doing more routine things that require providing test results. She said it’s likely not because more children are getting seriously ill.

“As an example, if a child is scheduled to have a routine tonsillectomy performed, within a three-day period they get a COVID test,” Dr. Steltenkamp explained. “Now they may have been totally asymptomatic, but that test comes back positive. That sort of example is much of what we’re seeing when we look at an increased number of cases.”

In summary, the data released by the American Academy of Pediatrics presents a total number of cases, but it does not reflect how the coronavirus is affecting a child’s health.

“We also could consider looking at how many of these children actually required hospitalization? Did they require ongoing care? Those may be a greater indication of how COVID is affecting the health and welfare of the population of children in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Dr. Steltenkamp said.

Despite rising cases, children represent less than 10% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States since the pandemic began six months ago. The report also reads, “children were 0%-0.3% of all COVID-19 deaths and 18 states reported zero child deaths.”

Kentucky has recorded the death of one child since March. The nine-month-old child from Hopkins County died in June after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Though the mortality rate in children due to COVID-19 remains low, Dr. Steltenkamp emphasized the importance of following the guidance of health officials.

“We still need to be taking it seriously that children have the potential to be vectors. They can carry the disease and they can, in turn, have the potential to infect those around them,” she said. “We really can’t let our guard down right now and I’ll go back to the standard wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance.”