May 6, 2020 - Health

Children in the U.S. face "unprecedented" food insecurity, Brookings finds

Volunteers hand out groceries on April 20 at a food bank opened in response to the coronavirus in El Monte, California. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Children in the U.S. are currently experiencing food insecurity that is "unprecedented in modern times," Lauren Bauer of the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project wrote on Wednesday.

The big picture: Millions of children around the world are endangered by malnourishment and poverty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations warned last month.

What they found: More than 1 in 5 U.S. households were food insecure by the end of April, Bauer writes — marking the greatest increase since at least 2001.

  • 40.9% of mothers with children under 12 years old responded in an April survey that their families had experienced food insecurity since the pandemic began.
  • 34.5% of homes with a child 18 years or younger have had difficulty getting enough food, the University of Chicago's COVID Impact Survey found.

Between the lines: The latest report from the UN's food agency says those struggling with food insecurity often have greater incidence of underlying health conditions that weaken immune systems and can "increase the risk of people developing severe COVID-19 symptoms."

Methodology: Bauers' data is based on a coronavirus impact survey of 2,190 adults April 20–26 by NORC at the University of Chicago, and a Brookings' survey of 1,307 mothers living with children ages 12 and younger conducted April 27–28 via SurveyMonkey. MOE ± 3.0% for both surveys.

Go deeper: Food banks demand surges amid coronavirus crisis

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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

Coronavirus accelerates AI in health care

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

From predicting outbreaks to devising treatments, doctors are turning to AI in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: While machine learning algorithms were already becoming a part of health care, COVID-19 is likely to accelerate their adoption. But lack of data and testing time could hinder their effectiveness — for this pandemic, at least.

CDC: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," but more data is needed

CDC director Robert Redfield briefs reporters on April 8. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

What they're saying: The agency explicitly warned against using antibody tests to determine whether someone should return to work or to group people within schools or prisons.