Coronavirus cases among children and young adults have risen nationwide since the summertime, prompting researchers to call for strict adherence to universal mask wearing in schools to promote safe in-person learning, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The information was contained in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Wednesday.
“To enable safer in-person learning, schools and communities should fully implement and strictly adhere to multiple mitigation strategies, especially universal and proper mask wearing, to reduce both school and community COVID-19 incidence to help protect students, teachers, and staff members from COVID-19,” the report said.
According to the document, some 2.8 million laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases among children, adolescents and adults under 25 were reported in the US between Mar. 1 and Dec. 12 of 2020.
“Among these cases, the majority (57.4%) occurred among young adults aged 18–24 years,” the report said. “[C]hildren and adolescents aged 14–17 years accounted for 16.3% of cases, those 11–13 years for 7.9%, those 5–10 years for 10.9%, and those 0–4 years for 7.4% (Table). Overall, 51.8% of cases occurred in females.”
Among 1.5 million children, adolescents, and young adults with COVID-19 for whom there was complete information on race and ethnicity, 50.2 percent were non-Hispanic white, 27.4 percent Hispanic or Latino, and 11.7 percent were non-Hispanic Black, the report said.
“Studies have consistently shown that children, adolescents, and young adults are susceptible to ... [COVID-19] infections,” the report said. “Children and adolescents have had lower incidence and fewer severe COVID-19 outcomes than adults.”
The report added that findings from national case and laboratory surveillance data complements the available evidence regarding the risk of virus transmission in schools.
As of the week beginning Dec. 6, the report said, “aggregate COVID-19 incidence among the general population in counties where K–12 schools offer in-person education (401.2 per 100,000) was similar to that in counties offering only virtual/online education (418.2 per 100,000).”
In addition, the report said, a recent study found no increase in COVID-19 hospitalization rates associated with in-person learning in schools.