NOEL KING, HOST:
Do you remember early on in the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about how maybe kids don't get coronavirus or they're less likely to get it than adults? Some new numbers suggest that may not be the case. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association reviewed state-level data and found 97,000 kids tested positive for the virus in just the last two weeks of July. So what does this mean for plans to reopen schools?
NPR's Cory Turner is on the line. Good morning, Cory.
CORY TURNER, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.
KING: So we have all of this data from states gathered in a report. And what does the report say?
TURNER: Well, we've got 97,000 kids testing positive for COVID in just that two-week period at the end of July. That is, for context, a 40% increase over the previous total, which has been building slowly since the pandemic began. According to these state-level data, at least 340,000 children in the U.S. have now tested positive, and that number and this report offer, you know, a powerful rebuttal to President Trump's claim just last week that children are, quote, "almost immune from this disease." Trump suggested yesterday he meant kids don't get very sick. About that, he is right. But children do get the disease. And they do spread it, especially older children.
KING: Is it possible that this surge is happening because more kids are being tested?
TURNER: I think that is part of it but not all of it. I spoke with Dr. Sean O'Leary. He's a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital Colorado.
SEAN O'LEARY: Clearly, more children are getting infected. I think we can say that because the rates of infection have gone up in the places where we're seeing more children getting infected.
TURNER: O'Leary says, you know, look at what was happening in the country during those last two weeks of July. Many states were seeing infection rates skyrocket. And researchers note, you know, those same states, largely in the South and the West, accounted for over 7 out of 10 of these new child cases.
KING: Wow. So what does this mean for schools deciding whether they should reopen - what, if anything?
TURNER: Well, it's interesting. I think my answer changed late yesterday when Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced yesterday that he was recommending schools there delay in-person classes for at least a little while longer. And he pointed to this new report.
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ANDY BESHEAR: Hopefully, y'all saw this news nationally. A hundred thousand kids tested positive in the United States in just the last two weeks of July. It is a myth that kids do not get this virus.
TURNER: Noel, Beshear and Kentucky really stand out here because we've seen other states with relatively high infection rates push for schools to reopen in spite of public health warnings. You know, every expert I talked to says schools don't exist in a vacuum and community infection rates should be central to the decision of when and how to reopen. That's why, you know, with rates low, New York City is planning to reopen schools. But it's also why schools in Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, where rates are still relatively high, are seeing infections follow kids and staff to class.
KING: NPR education correspondent Cory Turner. Cory, thanks.
TURNER: You're welcome.
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