President Donald Trump may be giving parents a false sense of security when it comes to kids and COVID-19.
In remarks Monday, Trump expressed a desire to have K-12 schools reopen in the fall in “full blast” while minimizing the risk that children and adults who are around them may face from the coronavirus.
TRUMP, on children: “They’ve come out of this at a level that’s really inconceivable. By the way, the regular flu, other flus, other things, SARS or H1N1, any of them, if you look at the young people they were affected like everybody else, but for whatever reason with respect to COVID, the numbers are very, very low.”
THE FACTS: Although it’s true that children are less likely than adults to develop COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has nevertheless counted more than 86,000 infections by the virus in Americans younger than 18.
Trump’s statements overlook severe COVID-19 illnesses and some deaths of children in the U.S., even though kids in general tend to get less sick from it than adults do. He also glosses over the fact that kids can spread disease without showing symptoms themselves.
The CDC in April studied the pandemic’s effect on different ages in the U.S. and reviewed preliminary research in China, where the coronavirus started. It said social distancing is important for children, too, for their own safety and that of others.
“Whereas most COVID-19 cases in children are not severe, serious COVID-19 illness resulting in hospitalization still occurs in this age group,” the CDC study says.
Last month, the CDC also warned doctors to be on the lookout for a rare but life-threatening inflammatory reaction in some children who’ve had the coronavirus. The condition had been reported in more than 100 children in New York, and in some kids in several other states and in Europe, with some deaths.
The agency has issued guidelines for communities on the reopening of K-12 schools to “help protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19.” The guidance says “full sized, in person classes” present the “highest risk” of spreading the virus and advises face masks, increased ventilation in classrooms, regular cleaning, hand hygiene and disinfection as well as “staying home when appropriate” to help avert spikes in virus cases.