Children now make up at least 1 in 11 of all reported U.S. coronavirus cases.
That’s according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. On Monday, the organization said over 1 million children have tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S.
“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic. We haven’t seen a virus flash through our communities in this way since before we had vaccines for measles and polio,” AAP President Sally Goza said in a statement.
The data is compiled from state reports and shows 1,039,464 children have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Nov. 12. In the one-week period ending that day, there were nearly 112,000 new cases in children, the largest one-week increase.
The virus has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic children, the AAP stated. They have suffered a higher number of infections and are more likely to be impacted by economic harms and lack of access to education and other critical services.
The number of children with the coronavirus is thought to be widely underestimated. Because most have no or few symptoms, and it is rare for children to experience severe symptoms, many children are never tested, the AAP notes.
Babies under one year old and children with certain underlying conditions may be more likely to have severe illness from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some children can experience a rare complication called MIS-C, which can cause organ inflammation.
Children’s mental health is also being affected by the pandemic. According to a recent CDC report, children aged 5 to 11 made emergency room visits related to mental health approximately 24% more than last year. Visits from children aged 12 to 17 increased about 31%.
As winter approaches and people stay indoors more, Goza emphasized the need to get a coronavirus vaccine approved. She also highlighted other immediate control measures.
“We urgently need a new, nation-wide strategy to control the pandemic, and that should include implementing proven public health measures like mask wearing and physical distancing,” Goza said. “This pandemic is taking a heavy toll on children, families and communities, as well as on physicians and other front-line medical teams.”