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1 year of data shows how pediatric COVID-19 cases ebbed and flowed

June 1, 2021

Children and families in all areas of the U.S. were affected by COVID-19, an analysis of data from April 2020 to April 2021 showed.

In the early months of the pandemic, known cases among children were concentrated in urban areas of the Northeast. But over the months that followed, weekly case count data captured in Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report from the Academy and the Children’s Hospital Association documented how the virus spread and varied by time and place. The pandemic spiked in waves, and eventually hit urban, suburban and rural pediatric practices across the country.

As of April 29, state public health departments reported that nearly 3.8 million children have had COVID-19.

In the summer of 2020, cases surged in the South and West (see figure 1). As the weather got colder in the fall, cases in the Midwest surged followed by peaks in the South and West in the winter. Reported cases have declined substantially since January, but cases in April remained above the level of the summer surge in the Midwest and Northeast. Rates of severe illness have remained rare among children, as indicated by rates of hospitalization and mortality.

In the earliest weeks of the pandemic, less than 5% of all reported COVID-19 cases were children (see figure 2). By late April 2021, children accounted for 14% of cumulated confirmed cases of COVID-19, but trends show the weekly portion of new cases has increased over time, reaching 22% by April 29. As more adults are vaccinated against COVID-19, it is projected that the portion of children will increase.

The cases in the weekly children and COVID-19 report are based on data publicly reported by health departments and are limited by how each state categorizes and reports information. Unknown is the number of children infected and not tested.

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