More than 61,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 last week, setting a new high for any 7-day span since the beginning of the pandemic, new numbers show.
On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association reported that 61,447 children contracted the coronavirus from Oct. 22 to Oct. 29.
This number is "larger than any previous week in the pandemic," the organization, which is tracking weekly COVID numbers using state health department data, said in a statement.
The AAP found that the percentage of cases in children has been on the rise since mid-April.
Since the onset of the pandemic, 853,635 children have tested positive for the coronavirus, representing 11.1 percent of all cases in the U.S.
In October alone, nearly 200,000 new pediatric cases of COVID-19 were reported.
"This is a stark reminder of the impact this pandemic is having on everyone — including our children and adolescents," Dr. Sally Goza, president of the AAP, said in a news release.
“This virus is highly contagious, and as we see spikes in many communities, children are more likely to be infected, too," she added.
The AAP noted that this record number is most likely an undercount as children's symptoms are often mild and they might not test for the virus.
While severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children, the AAP notes an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts on kids.
"Not only are children feeling the direct effects of the virus and becoming ill, but the pandemic has transformed their lives at critical stages of development and education,” Dr. Goza added.
"I’m very concerned about the long-term harms that children may suffer, particularly Black and Hispanic children, who are suffering a higher number of infections," she continued. "This includes not only children who test positive for the virus, but everyone in these communities who are suffering disproportionate emotional and mental health harms."
The AAP urges people to continue social distancing, wearing masks and following other public health recommendations to further protect children and their communities.
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