COVID19 cases and schools opening

This fall approximately 56 million school aged children started school in the US. Are kid COVID19 cases increasing compared to before school?

A study was published this morning by the CDC looking at kid cases over time. There’s a lot to unpack, but here is a high-level report of results.

Since March 1…

277,285 confirmed kid cases of COVID19-37% of cases were children (5-11 years); 63% were adolescents (12-17 years)

5% of confirmed cases reported no symptoms

3% of cases had an underlying condition

Asthma was most commonly reported underlying condition among kids (55%)

1.2% of kids were hospitalized (of those hospitalized, 16% had underlying condition)

<0.01% (51) kids died

From March 1- September 19…

Kid cases peaked in July (just like adults)

We are seeing a small uptick in kid cases in September (just like adults)

Test positive rate (TPR) among kids has been decreasing since June

On Sept 19, TPR among children= 5%; TPR among adolescents=7.8%. These numbers are beyond fantastic.

Translation: As long as we have COVID in the community we cannot be surprised that there is COVID19 in schools. However, we want the case rate in schools to stay the same (or less, which we are seeing in Texas) compared to the community. We do NOT want schools to become hot spots and have MORE cases than the surrounding community. So far, it doesn’t look like schools are hotspots, as kid trends closely reflect adult trends.

ALTHOUGH, the recent September uptick in cases overall (kids and adults) needs to be monitored closely. We don’t know the direction of transmission yet. In other words, is the Sept uptick due to school spread and kids giving it to adults OR is the Sept uptick due to community spread and adults giving it to kids? Or is this uptick not an uptick and just a random circumstance (ie not meaningful)? This is a difficult (but important) question to answer.

Remember….Because we lack a coordinated, national COVID19 response, we have to rely on county metrics to make decisions. There cannot be national blanket decisions. If your community has <10% TPR AND <10 new cases per 100,000 we can safely open schools. If this is not the case, schools can increase transmission risk in communities where transmission rates are high.

Love, YLE

Data Source: Leeb RT, Price S, Sliwa S, et al. COVID-19 Trends Among School-Aged Children — United States, March 1–September 19, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 28 September 2020. DOI: icon

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