Close to 9,000 new cases of coronavirus in children have been identified in Florida in the past 15 days, after schools reopened for in-person instruction earlier this month.
As of Monday, 48,730 kids under the age of 18 have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus reached the state.
In spite of continued new cases reported daily, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pressured schools to reopen or risk losing their funding.
It’s clear that coronavirus has not gone away as Florida schools open their doors to students this fall. From August 9 to August 24, 8,995 new cases of coronavirus in children under the age of 18 have been identified in the state.
That number is similar to numbers seen in the previous 15-day period, before schools reopened, when 8,585 cases were found in children.
While those two numbers being similar may seem innocuous at first glance, they in fact indicate that for children across the state, the rate of infection does not appear to be slowing down. That’s a sharp contrast from how the virus appears to be spreading among the general population of Florida, which has seen its overall rate of new cases drop during that same time.
The rate of infection in school-aged children is slightly higher, too, according to the new report, with 80 percent of the cases identified being among kids ages 5 to 17. The previous report’s rate was 78.5 percent.
Looking at the population in general, more than 605,000 Floridians have tested positive for COVID-19, with 10,580 deaths attributed to the disease.
While evidence shows children may be more resilient to coronavirus than adults, a new study published last week found that they may have played a bigger role in spreading the disease.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found evidence that children had high levels of coronavirus in their airways within the first three days of being infected, even if they didn’t show symptoms of the virus themselves.
“Some people thought that children might be protected. This is incorrect,” one of the study’s authors, Alessio Fasano, said. “They may be as susceptible as adults — but just not visible.”
Lael Yonker, a pediatric specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and the study’s lead author, further surmised that children likely have been responsible for spreading the infection more than was initially believed.
“Kids, mildly symptomatic and early in the infection, are walking around in the community, and we need to minimize the potential of these children to spread the virus,” Yonker said.
That flies in the face of what many officials hoping to reopen schools across the country have suggested, including President Donald Trump, who wrongly asserted children couldn’t be harmed by the disease earlier this month.
“If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” Trump said in a Fox News interview. “They don’t have a problem.”
In fact, that statement is false — children are not immune from the disease. Though they’re apparently less likely to be harmed from it than adults are, dozens of children in the U.S. under the age of 15, as well as hundreds between the ages of 15 and 24, have died from COVID-19 complications.
According to Florida’s latest report, a total of eight children in the state have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
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