In today’s Health Alert, the number of COVID-19 cases in American children jumped 21-percent just this month alone. The news comes as school districts across the country are welcoming students back to in-person classes.

Especially if you are a parent like me with school-age children. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association reported more than 70-thousand new COVID-19 cases in children over just a two-week period, from August 6th through the 20th. While that seems like a large increase, experts say they’re not surprised about the uptick in cases. That’s because children in some states have already returned to school, and that’s where we are seeing new COVID-19 infections.

For example, hundreds of students and staff had to quarantine in Georgia, after school districts reported cases of COVID-19. A similar situation is playing out in Mississippi where nearly 5-thousand students and teachers are quarantined. And one of the hardest hit states is Florida.  Nearly 9-thousand new COVID-19 cases were reported in children over a 15-day period this month.

Dr. Nandi, what is the overall rate of coronavirus infection among U.S. children and how is the disease affecting them?

Well, the new report shows more than 440-thousand children have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic began. According to the CDC’s latest data, children make up more than 7-percent of all coronavirus cases in the United States. Although the infection rates among children are rising, the new report says it’s rare for them to become severely ill from the coronavirus.  However, the CDC is seeing an increase in the number of children hospitalized with the virus. About one in three of those children is admitted to the ICU.

Dr. Nandi, remind us again of the COVID-19 symptoms in children.

The symptoms are similar to those in adults. Parents should be on the lookout for mild, cold-like symptoms such as a fever, runny nose and coughing. Nausea and diarrhea have also been reported in children. Certain underlying medical conditions put children at higher risk, so check with your health professional if you are concerned about your child’s health. And again, let’s stay vigilant as the fall season arrives and school begins. Children should wear a mask, wash their hands often, practice social distancing, and stay home if they’re sick. All of this will help reduce the infection rates.