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More Than 600,000 Child Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In U.S., But Severe Illness 'Rare'

In a survey of data published on the health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, a total of 624,890 child cases of COVID-19 were reported from the start of the pandemic through Sept. 24, or 10.5% of all cases in states reporting infections according to age.

A smaller subset of states reported hospitalizations and mortality by age. The data from those states indicate "COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children," according to the survey.

The survey was compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association. In announcing the survey, published Tuesday, the organizations said state-level reports are "the best publicly available data on child COVID-19 cases in the United States."

"At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children," the survey's authors conclude.

The age parameters for childhood differ widely among the states, from 0-14 to 0-20. The survey's totals do not distinguish between the different age ranges. The authors also said it is not possible to determine the number of children infected but not tested.

The survey found a 14% increase in child cases in the two weeks ending Sept. 24, a total of 75,458 new cases.

Of 11 states that reported testing according to age, children made up "4%-16.2% of total state tests, and between 3.7%-15.5% of children tested were tested positive," the survey found.

The number of children hospitalized because of COVID-19 and the number who died from the illness are small, according to the survey.

Twenty-five states and New York City reported hospitalizations by age. "Children were 0.5%-3.7% of total reported hospitalizations, and between 0.2%-7.9% of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization," the authors wrote.

Forty-two states and New York City reported deaths by age. Of those, 17 states reported no child deaths from COVID-19, and the highest reported percentage of child deaths among total deaths was 0.26%, in Tennessee. Among all child cases of COVID-19 in this subset of states and New York City, the death rate was 0.16%.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Katkov