COVID-19 cases among America’s children and teenagers have risen to record-high levels.
More than 250,000 under-18s tested positive for the virus during the week ending September 2, according to new data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
It is the highest total since the AAP began reporting weekly figures for kids in late April 2020.
Minors also accounted for 26.8 percent of all U.S. cases that week, the highest figure seen since the pandemic began.
Additionally, 20,000 kids were admitted to hospitals due to complications from the virus that week, and 19 of them died
However, virus-related fatalities among children are rare and pediatric deaths make up just 0.1 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.
The new figures comes as children head back to classrooms for the 2021-22 year, with several schools across the nation reporting outbreaks and closures.
More than 250,000 children and teens tested positive for COVID-19 during the week ending September 2, the most of any week since the pandemic began
Children account for 26% of all U.S.cases, according to AAP data, also the highest point during the pandemic
According to the AAP report, Covid cases among children grew by 25 percent from the week ending August 26 to the week ending September 2.
More than half of the cases occurred in the South, with 135,000 children and teens testing positive during that period.
Many states in the South have lower vaccination rates than much of the rest of the country, and some governors have set restrictions against certain pandemic-related mandates in schools.
Florida and Texas, for example, both have governors that banned mask mandates in schools.
Both were defied by local school districts, though, and the Texas Supreme Court even ruled that the mask mandate in the state could not be enforced.
Arkansas and Arizona have also taken measures to prevent school districts from forcing children to wear masks.
Schools have become hotspots for COVID-19 spread only weeks into the new school year.
More than half of cases recorded among children, 135,000, are in the U.S. south
Schools in Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona are not allowed to implement mask mandates according to statewide orders. Schools have become hotspots for the virus only weeks into the new school year. Pictured: Two Miami high school students wear masks on the first day of school
More than 1,000 schools in 35 states have already had to close to deal with a surge in cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged these outbreaks, and Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the agency, told schools they would need to follow federal guidelines in order to avoid these situations.
‘I want to strongly appeal to those districts who have not implemented prevention strategies and encourage them to do the right thing to protect the children under their care,’ Walensky said during a briefing last month.
‘In our outbreak investigations, large-scale quarantines or large number of cases are generally occurring in schools because schools are not following our guidance.’
CDC data show 39% of those aged 12 to 15 (dashed golden line) are fully vaccinated and 48% of those aged 16 and 17 (sold golden line) are fully vaccinated
The prevention measures laid out by the CDC include vaccination for all eligible students and staff, masking, increased ventilation, physical distancing and regular testing.
According to data from the CDC, 39 percent of those aged 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated and 48 percent of those aged 16 and 17 are fully vaccinated.
Children account for 15% of all COVID-19 cases recorded in the US, and more than 20% of cases in four states
American parents are split 50/50 on whether or not they will immunize their children.
The AAP has pushed for more children to get jabbed, however, with president Lee Savio Beers writing an open letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking to expand authorization for children under the age of 12.
The report also found that children make up over 15 percent of cases since the pandemic first began.
In Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Vermont, minors make up more than 20 percent of all time cases.
Many of these cases are relatively minor, though, as a majority of children who contract the virus recover with little severe complications.
The report finds that 444 children have died from Covid since March 2020, with 110 occurring after the Indian ‘Delta’ variant became dominant in the U.S.