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Pediatric COVID-19 cases surpass record for a single week

January 19, 2021

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More than 211,000 COVID-19 cases in children and adolescents were reported last week, the most in a single week since the start of the pandemic.

The additional cases bring the total for this age group to just over 2.5 million, according to new data from the AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA).

The increase comes on the heels of the holiday season in which many flouted health rules about traveling and gathering. Experts also are concerned about a new SARS-CoV-2 variant first found in the United Kingdom and since detected in 20 states. It appears to be highly transmissible and could become the predominant variant in March, according to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Children make up 12.6% of all cases in the U.S. At least 10,182 children have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic and 191 have died, according to the AAP/CHA report. Data were not available from all states.

About 1.8% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and 0.06% of the deaths have been among children. About 0.8% of children with a known case of COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 0.01% have died.

The AAP believes the number of reported COVID-19 cases in children likely is an undercount because children’s symptoms often are mild and they may not be tested for every illness.

Children have suffered during the pandemic even if they have not contracted the virus. Many are struggling with upheaval in their daily lives, social isolation and anxiety about getting sick. Disruptions to education have impacted their academic progress, and a government analysis found millions of children from families living in poverty did not get vaccinations, screenings, mental health care and dental services in the early months of the pandemic. The virus has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic children, who have experienced a higher number of infections, as well as other impacts of the pandemic.

The AAP is continuing to support pediatricians on the front lines of the pandemic. It has issued interim clinical guidance on 20 topics, including testing, personal protective equipment, return to school and telehealth. The AAP also is holding biweekly virtual town halls, linking members with leading experts to discuss emerging issues related to the pandemic. The next session, “Ask the Red Book About COVID-19” will be held at 7 p.m. CST on Jan. 21. Register at

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