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A third COVID-19 vaccine is now in circulation and states are starting to drop mask mandates, but the latest decline in weekly child cases barely registers as a decline, according to new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in children fell from 64,264 (Feb. 19-25) to 63,562 (Feb. 26 to March 4). That’s only 702 cases – a drop of just 1.1% – the smallest by far since weekly cases peaked in mid-January, the AAP and CHA said in their weekly COVID-19 report. Since that peak, the last 7 weeks of declines have looked like this: 21.7%, 15.3%, 16.2%, 15.7%, 28.7%, 9.0%, and 1.1%.
Meanwhile, children’s share of the COVID-19 burden increased to its highest point ever: 18.0% of all new cases occurred in children during the week ending March 4, climbing from 15.7% the week before and eclipsing the previous high of 16.9%. Cumulatively, the 3.23 million cases in children represent 13.2% of all COVID-19 cases reported in 49 states (excluding New York), the District of Columbia, New York City, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
At the state level, the new leader in cumulative share of cases is Vermont at 19.4%, which just edged past Wyoming’s 19.3% as of the week ending March 4. The other states above 18% are Alaska (19.2%) and South Carolina (18.2%). The lowest rates can be found in Florida (8.1%), New Jersey (10.2%), Iowa (10.4%), and Utah (10.5%), the AAP and CHA said.
The overall rate of COVID-19 cases nationwide was 4,294 cases per 100,000 children as of March 4, up from 4,209 per 100,000 the week before. That measure had doubled between Dec. 3 (1,941 per 100,000) and Feb. 4 (3,899) but has only risen about 10% in the last month, the AAP/CHA data show.
Perhaps the most surprising news of the week involves the number of COVID-19 deaths in children, which went from 256 the previous week to 253 after Ohio made a downward revision of its mortality data. So far, children represent just 0.06% of all coronavirus-related deaths, a figure that has held steady since last summer in the 43 states (along with New York City and Guam) that are reporting mortality data by age, the AAP and CHA said.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.