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Tens of thousands of kids are testing positive for the coronavirus as schools try to reopen

Published Aug 10th, 2020 3:13PM EDT
Can kids get coronavirus?
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  • Schools across the US are attempting to reopen, but new data shows that nearly 100,000 children tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the second half of July alone.
  • A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association reveals that 8.8% of all COVID-19 cases in the US have been in children.
  • Some schools that have tried to reopen have already had to shut down due to outbreaks.

In the early stages of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we were told that children were less likely to be infected than adults, and even if they were to catch it, they wouldn’t be as contagious and they would frequently be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Five months into the pandemic, it has become clear that the virus’s ability to spread to and from younger individuals was severely understated, and now we have the data to prove it.

According to a joint report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, 97,078 kids tested positive for COVID-19 over the last two weeks of July, which represents a 40% increase. Overall, 338,982 children have been infected, which represented 8.8% of all US cases at the time of the report.

Needless to say, this data is especially relevant for parents as schools across the country attempt to reopen despite the fact that tens of thousands of Americans are still testing positive every day and the death rate has been climbing since the beginning of July. If children actually were “virtually immune,” as Donald Trump has suggested, the Georgia school that made headlines when pictures of crowded hallways were shared on social media probably wouldn’t have had to temporarily shut down when nine cases were reported days after the school went viral.

Parents and children alike are desperate to go back to school after having to finish the spring with distance learning, but teachers have been sounding the alarm for months, asking how schools plan to protect them and their students if they are made to resume in-person classes. Trying to ensure that hundreds or thousands of kids and staff are always wearing masks and observing social distancing guidelines in a school building is all but impossible, and some of the early experiments — like the one in Georgia — have already failed spectacularly.

Even if you ignore the faculty members who will be putting themselves at risk by being at school five days a week, more than 86 children in the US had died of COVID-19 as of July 30th. If schools reopen, the data suggests that the infection rate will rise, and while a majority of those kids will survive, some won’t, and even an asymptomatic student could bring the virus home to his or her parents and grandparents. This is an incredibly complex situation with plenty of moving parts, but it’s now impossible to ignore the risk that in-person education presents.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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