With most schools back in person all across the US, it is no surprise to learn that COVID-19 cases in children are on a sharp uptick. Here is the latest on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Cases in Children Continue to Escalate
According to new data released on Tuesday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children account for over 26% of new COVID-19 cases this week in the US. Over 251,000 child cases of the virus were tallied over the week spanning August 26 through September 2. This figure is over one-quarter of the over 939,000 cases reported across the US during the same time period.Read More »
Health experts continue to assert that the best way to protect children is for all eligible Americans to get the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that vaccination is particularly important for those adults working with children in schools.
Another troubling sign is that the number of cases of the multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children is also on the rise in recent weeks. This rare condition generally sets in a few weeks after the child has been infected with the virus. Through August 26, there was a 6% increase of MIS-C cases in children when compared to late July. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 children have died at the hands of MIS-C as of August 22. This number represents a 10% increase from the month prior.
A Tale of Two Labor Days
It is not just the youth population that is seeing an explosion in COVID-19 cases. According to John Hopkins University, daily confirmed cases are four times higher in 2021 than they were over the same Labor Day weekend in 2020. The US has confirmed over 40 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began in early 2020. Four million of these cases came in the last month.
The Delta variant is taking the blame for the explosion in cases over the last few months. The much more contagious variant has led to a 316% increase in cases since last year at this time. Most concerning is that hospitalizations are up 157% compared with Labor Day weekend 2020. This surge in hospitalizations has overwhelmed medical personnel and depleted ICU bed availability in many of the hardest-hit regions.
The good news is that average daily cases are starting to trend slightly downward over the last week. Forecasters are hopeful that this may mean that the Delta variant has finally plateaued.
On a national level, 53% of all Americans are fully vaccinated. This translates to 62% of eligible Americans age 12 and over.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Suffer Significant Losses
Officials in the public school system in Miami-Dade County revealed on Tuesday that 13 school employees have passed away from COVID-19 since August 16. Of those 13, four were teachers. The list also includes one cafeteria worker, one security monitor, and seven school bus drivers. All 13 people were unvaccinated. In addition, all 13 people were African American.
School started in the county on August 23. According to district officials, 85% of its teachers have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Administrators will be asking the school board to approve a one-time $275 stipend to any employee who can provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.
Update on Child Vaccine Availability
The rapid rise in confirmed cases in the younger population has put the spotlight on when the vaccine will be approved for this age group. Most data points to Pfizer being ready to file its research data for the 5 – 11 age group by the end of September. This would open up an emergency use authorization (EUA) as early as October.
While there have been no concrete dates provided, Pfizer had signaled that the data for the 2-to-5-year-olds will likely come shortly after the older age group.
Moderna is also working on trials in the under 12 age group. However, it is a few months behind in the data collection.
One primary reason for the delay in approval is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked for six months of safety data from the trials. This differs from the only two months of data required with the adult clinical trials. In addition, the FDA requested that Pfizer and Moderna double the number of children in the studies so that there would be a wider and more robust body of data.
Jamaica and Sri Lanka Added to High-risk Destination List
The CDC updated its list of highest-risk destinations on Tuesday. The organization has added Jamaica and Sri Lanka to the list of “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” notice destinations. This means that all travelers should be fully vaccinated before visiting these locations.
According to the criteria by the CDC, Level 4 destinations are experiencing at least 500 cases per 100,000 residents over the last four weeks. Jamaica and Sri Lanka join a number of other destinations on the Level 4 list. Some of these include Brazil, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, France, Greece, Spain, South Africa, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.