More Arkansas kids are getting COVID-19, and they are getting sicker

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Contrary to earlier in the pandemic, when kids were rarely reported to become severely sick with COVID-19, health officials are now alerting the public that the virus is rapidly affecting more children and teens.

Driving the news: State health secretary Jose Romero said Tuesday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's news conference that 19% of active cases in the state are people under 18, and more than half of those are under 12.

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  • Arkansas cases in the under 18 age group have increased by 517% in three months.

  • From April through July, the state saw a 270% increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations of people under 18.

Why it matters: School starts back in a couple of weeks. Kids under 12 cannot get vaccinated, and unless the legislature amends Act 1002 during its special session Wednesday, school districts cannot require masks.

  • Nearly half of Arkansas kids ages 12–18 have no immunization. A little more than 18% of the age group is fully vaccinated, and another 32.2% are partially vaccinated.

State of play: Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock and Arkansas Children's Northwest in Springdale had a combined total of 21 COVID-19 patients as of Monday, spokesperson Hilary DeMillo tells Axios.

  • Eight of the patients are in the ICU, and five are on ventilators.

1 big deal: The Arkansas Department of Health reported 30,756 vaccine doses were administered Tuesday. Arkansas hasn't seen numbers that high since April, shortly after opening up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and up.

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