Not all children get mild coronavirus infections

The coronavirus is not as deadly to children as it is to adults, but children still get it and can still become seriously ill from it. The risk is higher for Black and Spanish children.

Why it matters: In communities with high caseloads, cases among children could explode as schools reopen. And children in communities that are already hardest hit by the pandemic are most at risk.

The big picture: We do not know much about children and the coronavirus, especially because the closure of schools and day care have limited the contact of children with other people, and they are more protected than adults.

  • Over the summer, camps and sports loans have provided some evidence of how the pandemic among children plays out, and schools were soon able to provide fodder for what it looks like on a mass scale.

By the figures: In the 20 states that report the age distribution of hospitalizations, plus New York City, between 0.6% and 8.9% of child deaths are hospitalized, according to a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the Children’s Hospital Association.

  • The AAP report also found a 40% increase in child cases in the second half of July, another indication that the virus could easily spread among children if given the chance.
  • A separate CDC report released last week found that, although the hospital percentage of children is low, children who are hospitals are admitted to the ICU at almost the same rate as adults.

Context: Those numbers indicate that the coronavirus is more dangerous to children than the flu.

  • 0.7% of children between 0 and 4 who contracted the flu in the 2018-2019 season were hospitalized, and only 0.27% of children 5-17 were hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • More hospital children also end up in the ICU of coronavirus than out of the flu.

Yes, but: Fortunately, very few children have died from their infections.

Between the lines: Reflecting on almost every other pandemic trend, Black and Latino children have suffered less than white children.

  • Hispanic children are admitted eight times more hospitalized than white children, per the CDC. Black children were brought to the hospital five times more.
  • Some of these children may be living in households with essential workers. Underlying medical conditions may be another factor; the CDC study found that obesity, which is very common among black and Latino children, was the most common underlying medical condition among children in the hospital.

The finish line: Reopening schools and exposing children to the coronavirus may not be very high stakes for most children, but for some it is.