There is still a lot we don’t know about how the coronavirus impacts children. But accumulating research suggests children are not immune, and infections disproportionately impact Black and Brown youth. The racial disparities among D.C. children who contracted COVID-19 are stark.
Let’s take a look at two reports published within the last two weeks. The first comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association and says at least 97,000 children nationwide tested positive in the last two weeks of July. More than 338,000 children have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, meaning more than a quarter of the total cases tested positive in just two weeks. The report says that 6.9 percent of the District’s total cases are young people between the ages of 0 and 19, as of July 30.
The second report, published in Pediatrics by Children’s National Hospital and George Washington University researchers, finds children of color or children living in low-income households were more likely to be infected early in the pandemic than White children. Researchers tested 1,000 children at a Northeast D.C. testing site in March and April and found that 20.7 percent tested positive for COVID-19. White children tested positive 7.3 percent of the time, while Latinx children tested positive at a rate of 46.4 percent and Black children at a rate of 30.0 percent.
“Although it was beyond the scope of this study to understand the causes for these differential rates of infection, the causes may be multifactorial, and include, but are not limited to structural factors, poorer access to health care, limited resources, as well as bias and discrimination,” the study says.
The study points out that people of color are more likely to work essential jobs, have a higher reliance on public transportation, and live in crowded settings. The study tracks with racial disparities among D.C.’s total COVID-19 case count.
Researchers are more confident that children who are exposed to the coronavirus are unlikely to get really sick. The first report indicated hospitalizations are rare. However, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a COVID-19 related illness hits Black and Brown youth at disproportionate rates too. Of the 570 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome among young people—0 to 20 years of age—40 percent were Latinx and 33 percent were Black, while 13 percent were White.
—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
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