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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus isn't as deadly for children as it is for adults, but kids still get it and can still get seriously sick from it. The risk is higher for Black and Hispanic children.

Why it matters: In communities with high caseloads, cases among children could explode as schools reopen. And kids in the communities already hit hardest by the pandemic are the most at risk.

The big picture: We don't know much about children and the coronavirus, mainly because the closure of schools and day cares has limited kids' contact with other people, shielding them from the virus more than adults.

  • Over the summer, camps and sports leagues have provided some evidence of how the pandemic plays out among children, and schools could soon provide fodder for what it looks like on a mass scale.

By the numbers: In the 20 states that report the age distribution of hospitalizations, plus New York City, between 0.6% and 8.9% of child cases ended up hospitalized, according to a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

  • The AAP report also found a 40% increase in child cases during the second half of July, yet another indication that the virus can spread easily among children when given the opportunity.
  • A separate CDC report released last week found that, although children's hospitalization rate is low, children who are hospitalized are admitted to the ICU at almost the same rate as adults.

Context: Those numbers indicate that the coronavirus is more dangerous to kids than the flu.

  • 0.7% of children between 0 and 4 who got the flu during the 2018-2019 season were hospitalized, and only 0.27% of children 5-17 were hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • More hospitalized kids also end up in the ICU from coronavirus than from the flu.

Yes, but: Thankfully, very few children have died from their infections.

Between the lines: Mirroring almost every other pandemic trend, Black and Latino children have had it worse than white children.

  • Hispanic children have been hospitalized eight times more than white children, per the CDC. Black children have been hospitalized five times more.
  • Some of these children may live in households with essential workers. Underlying medical conditions may be another factor; the CDC study found that obesity, which is more prevalent among Black and Latino children, was the most prevalent underlying medical condition among hospitalized kids.

The bottom line: Reopening schools and exposing kids to the coronavirus may not be very high stakes for most kids, but for some, it is.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 22, 2020 - Health

FDA authorizes emergency use of Regeneron antibody treatment given to Trump

The corporate and research and development headquarters of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in Tarrytown, N.Y. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images


The Food and Drug Administration announced Saturday evening it has granted emergency use authorization for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' antibody cocktail given to President Trump to treat his COVID-19 infection last month.

Why it matters: Regeneron's two monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab, are for people who tested positive for the coronavirus and "who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19" — including people who are 65 and older, and/or people with certain chronic illnesses, per an FDA statement.

Nov 21, 2020 - Health

Over 1 million U.S. travelers flew on Friday, despite calls to avoid holiday travel

Travelers walk through Newark International Airport on November 21, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1 million people flew through U.S. airports on Friday, according to TSA data, the second highest number since the coronavirus pandemic began hit the U.S. in mid-March.

Why it matters: As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continued to soar this week, the CDC issued new guidance on Thursday advising Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving, warning doing so may increase the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

Nov 22, 2020 - Health

Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays as coronavirus cases surge

Passengers wear mandatory protective masks while riding on a bus in in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Portugal will ban most domestic travel and close schools on the days around two upcoming national holidays, the country's ministry of health said Saturday.

Why it matters: Portugal recorded 6,472 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, per the health ministry. The country of 10 million ranks seventh in Europe for the number of total cases per 100,000 people and 14th for new deaths from the virus, Reuters reported, citing the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures.