For The Record

CDC: Adolescents nearly twice as likely to get COVID than younger kids

By: - September 29, 2020 4:48 pm

Researchers already knew that children under age 10 can catch and transmit the virus in school but a new report says nearly twice as many cases occur in adolescents than in younger children. David Roark/Walt Disney World Resort/Getty Images

Something changes once a child nears puberty or age 12 when it comes to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers already knew that children under age 10 can catch and transmit the virus in school.

But now, more than 277,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in children nationwide between March and Sept. 19, and almost twice as many of those cases occurred among adolescents (ages 12 through 17) than in younger kids.

“Although mortality and hospitalization in school-aged children was low, Hispanic ethnicity, Black race, and underlying conditions were more commonly reported among children who were hospitalized or admitted to an ICU, providing additional evidence that some children might be at increased risk for severe illness associated with COVID-19,” according to the report.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, fewer than 4% of the state’s total COVID-19 cases were of children under the age of 11.

Severe outcomes are linked to children with underlying conditions.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) has been reported to disproportionately affect Hispanic and Black children.

Nearly 7,000 Georgians, including at least six children, have died of COVID-19 and related complications.

One of the youngest deaths, a 7-year-old African American boy from Chatham County, drowned in the bathtub after having a seizure due to the coronavirus, according to an autopsy obtained by WSAV.

He had no underlying conditions, but the autopsy shows, “Group A Streptococcal septicemia was a significant contributing condition.”

Sepsis is deadly.

The strep bacteria are what often causes strep throat, ear infections and even pneumonia. Infections are common among school-aged children, but when an infection is not caught soon enough, sepsis and septic shock can result.

At the time of his death in early August, the child was the youngest person to die from COVID-19 complications in the state. Later that month, a 1-year-old Cobb County child, who had underlying medical conditions as well, became the youngest.

More than 100 children nationwide have died of COVID-19 and doctors are calling for vaccine trials to include children.

“We owe it to our children to not delay moving forward initial studies to evaluate promising vaccine candidates,” Emory’s Dr. Evan Anderson said. “And we believe that this is a very important and critical thing to be doing right now, so that we would stand a better chance of having a potentially licensed vaccine for children before the next school year begins.”

The CDC report findings can provide a baseline for monitoring national trends.

“Monitoring at the local level could inform decision-makers about which mitigation strategies are most effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in schools and communities,” the report states.

This story appears in the Georgia Recorder through a partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

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Ellen Eldridge
Ellen Eldridge

Ellen Eldridge is a health care reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting. She has previously worked as a breaking news reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The topics she most often writes about are mental and other health care issues, as well as public policy and safety.