Nearly 100,000 young people tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, as school districts across the US plan to reopen during the pandemic.
But Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that children are immune from the virus.
Asked on Monday whether infections among young people gives him any pause, he said: ”No. There may be a case, a tiny, a tiny fraction of death, tiny fraction, and they get better very quickly.”
Last week, social media platforms forced Mr Trump and his campaign to remove videos from their accounts in which the president claimed children are “virtually immune” to the virus, which is false.
Asked if he still believes that, the president said: “For the most part, yeah, I think they do very well. They don’t catch it very easily ... They don’t transport it or transfer it to other people, or certainly not very easily.”
A report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association discovered a 40 per cent increase in Covid-19 cases among young people within that time, when the nation’s confirmed infections spiked to more than 4 million. Confirmed cases reached more than 5 million within the two weeks that follows.
At least 86 children in the US have died from the disease since May, according to the report. More than 163,000 people have died from Covid-19-related illness, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The report’s release follows the president’s false claim last week that children are “almost immune” or “virtually immune” from the virus, a claim that he appeared to walk back during a White House briefing by saying that children are able to “throw it off” and are less likely to get sick compared to adults. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts have found that children are equally vulnerable to transmitting the virus.
Facebook removed video of his remarks, which the platform said violated the company’s ”policies around harmful Covid misinformation”.
Twitter also told the president’s campaign account to remove the video, which the president shared to his account.
“The original Tweet from @TeamTrump is in violation of the Twitter Rules on Covid-19 misinformation, and we’ve required removal,” a Twitter spokesman said.
The administration has pushed for schools to reopen during the public health crisis following revised CDC guidelines that downplay the risk of transmissions among young people, and stress that “death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults”.
But a series of recent studies about Covid-19’s impact among children reveals the scope of the disease and how it interacts among different populations.
One CDC study shows children ages 10 to 19 are just as infectious as adults, although children under 10 years old were roughly half as likely as adults to spread the virus,
“Young children may show higher attack rates when the school closure ends, contributing to community transmission of Covid-19,” the authors wrote.
Middle- and high-school aged children have a similar rate of health risk as adults, the report found.
“Household transmission of [Covid-19] was high if the index patient was 10-19 years of age,” according to the report.
The CDC also discovered that Hispanic and black children are at a greater risk of hospitalisation for coronavirus.
Hispanic children are roughly eight times as likely as white children to be hospitalised, while black children were five times as likely.
The CDC’s analysis of of 576 children hospitalised in 14 states found that roughly a third of those patients were admitted to intensive care units, a rate similar to adults.
Nearly one out of five patients were younger than 3 months old.
The reports follow the CDC’s own insistence that schools reopen, arguing that “the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioural health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”
Despite Florida’s climbing infection rates, at roughly 17 per cent, schools in a dozen counties are scheduled to reopen this week. CDC guidance suggests areas with infection rates higher than 5 per cent should be closed to in-person instruction.
At a reopened Georgia high school, where a photo of a packed hallway went viral, at least six students and three staff members have tested positive for Covid-19.