Pima County tracks downward trend in COVID-19 cases among kids

Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 10:11 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As childhood COVID-19 cases increase across the country, officials in Pima County are tracking a different trend as districts transition to, or prepare for, hybrid learning and in-person platforms.

“Now is not the time to let up. Matter of fact, it’s time to increase these positive behaviors," said Pima County Superintendent Dustin Williams. He is also the co-chair of Pima County’s Back to School Committee.

[ Hybrid learning plans for school districts across Pima County ]

Earlier this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported children of all ages now make up 10% of all COVID cases in the United States, an increase from 2% in April.

In Pima County, health experts have seen a decrease in cases in children as many districts remained in remote learning.

According to data from Sup. Williams, nearly 2,000 COVID infections in school age children were reported in the last five months. The case count does not include cases from the University of Arizona outbreak with age 17 and 18.

The graphs show COVID infections in school age children.
The graphs show COVID infections in school age children.(Source: Pima County Superintendent's Office)

“I really believe, this crossroad where we are, as we venture back on campus, it’s so important to be as transparent as possible," said Williams.

According to the data, cases were in the double-digits across all age groups in June and July. Those two months saw the most reported infections among kids.

In September, 126 cases were reported among the age group.

“When you look at the data of zero to 18, of just high schoolers, in the last couple of months we have seen a really good downward trend," said Sup. Williams. “We need to continue that downward trend and the only way to do it is mask up, wash your hands, social distance. Follow all the guidelines of the Pima County Health Department and when in doubt, give us a call, we’re here to help.”

Another trend is the larger number of COVID cases among teens in Pima County. In July, the cases of those age groups, over 15-years-old, was nearly double or triple that of a younger age. In September, the cases among 18-year-old’s made up nearly half of the total cases for the month among kids.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found teens, age 12-17 years, are twice as likely to contract COVID-19 than younger kids. Since March, 277,285 COVID-19 cases in children have been reported.

Another CDC report sheds light on how COVID-19 impacts children. Data suggest the disease is relatively mild for many kids, especially those under the age of ten.

“That was one of the really interesting things about the report is that the younger children, less than ten, actually fared very, very well, and only about 30% of the total number of deaths that we saw in children, were in children less than ten,” said Camille Sabella, MD, Director of the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who was not involved in the report.

Dr. Sabella said the analysis also revealed that many of the children who died from COVID-19 had at least one underlying medical condition, like asthma or obesity. He adds that doctors are still trying to understand why kids, in general, do better with coronavirus. Dr. Sabella said there are some theories, but nothing has been proven just yet.

The Arizona Department of Health reports ten COVID-19 deaths among individuals younger than 20-years-old. None were reported from Pima County.

KOLD News 13 requested a breakdown of the deaths by age from the state. An AZDHS spokesperson said that is not provided due to privacy reasons. He added the information is protected communicable disease information under state law.

In Pima County, the latest data reports 4,335 cases among individuals under 20-years-old. There have been 66 hospitalizations.

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