1 in every 6 COVID-19 infections in Maricopa County involves a child under 12, new data show

By Stephanie Innes | Arizona Republic

One in every six new COVID-19 cases in Maricopa County is in kids younger than 12, and school outbreaks have more than doubled every week since the school opened this summer, county health officials say.

Related: Biden administration opens civil rights probes of 5 GOP-led states banning school mask mandates

While kids are far less likely to get severely ill and die from COVID-19, the latest data from Arizona’s most populous county shows children are increasingly being affected by the disease, accounting for 6% of all county COVID-19 hospitalizations, Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine told the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Sunenshine, who is the medical director for disease control at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said county officials have seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in children ever since kids went back to school in July.

Kids younger than 12 are particularly vulnerable to contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 because they are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. They also can be vectors of infection, spreading the virus to others in the community.

University of Arizona public health researcher Dr. Joe Gerald also has found significant recent spikes in pediatric COVID-19 cases in the state. In his most recent report, for the week ending Aug. 22, Gerald wrote that the age distribution of transmission has undergone a “profound” change in recent weeks, with more kids are getting infected.

“Resumption of K-12 in-person instruction in the face of high community transmission, inadequate vaccination, prohibited masking and inadequate surveillance testing is undoubtedly the cause,” he wrote. 

‘It’s devastating,’ schools superintendent says of the county data

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