Child deaths from COVID double in Florida as cases among children climb across the country

·3 min read
Kids in masks returning to school
Kids in masks returning to school Los Angeles Times
  • Child mortality from COVID rose 140% from the end of July to early September, Politico first reported.

  • COVID cases are down compared to earlier in the summer, but children make up about a quarter of new weekly cases.

  • Health experts are worried about child COVID cases and deaths rising into the fall as schools go back in-session.

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Florida's COVID-19 response took a hit this week as the number of COVID-related child deaths in Florida more than doubled in just over a month, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

A Florida Department of Health weekly report showed seven children under the age of 16 died from coronavirus complications from the start of the pandemic to July 30 - a 15-month period. Per the Department's latest report from September 3, the number has jumped to 17 deaths since July 30.

Though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Florida chapter said most of these deaths were aligned with underlying health conditions, this sharp climb has pediatric experts worried and uncertain about the COVID Delta variant in the coming months.

"We're all worried because we're not sure what's going to happen in the future," AAP Florida President Lisa Gwynn said, according to Politico.

The AAP did not respond immediately to Insider's request for further comment on rising mortality or morbidity rates among children by publication.

As of September 8, the CDC reported a national total of 486 deaths in children ages 0-18.

"Children are not supposed to die," Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a tense US Senate hearing in July about an overwhelming statistic on child COVID deaths.

Meanwhile, COVID cases among children across the US are up as students return to school. In August, days into a new school year, thousands of students across the country were forced to quarantine after schools reopened and case loads in children jumped. Several schools in the state have already announced closures in response to rising numbers. Pediatric hospitalizations also hit a record high last month, with 1,900 children hospitalized for COVID.

As of September 2, those 12 years and older are eligible to receive the vaccine, but vaccine coverage in children ages 12-17 is lower than older age groups, the CDC said.

"After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially, with over 750,000 cases added between August 5 and September 2," the AAP said in a report, which makes up a quarter of new weekly COVID cases.

This comes as GOP governors like Florida's Ron Desantis continue to fight individual school districts over mask mandates in school settings. A judge ruled in August that Desantis could not issue a mask ban, which was upheld in a court decision on Wednesday, allowing school districts to continue imposing a mask mandate. However, the decision was overruled when an appeals court ruled in favor of the governor's ban on Friday. The US Department of Education opened a civil rights investigation into mask bans in six states, including Florida.

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