The results raise serious concerns about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ relentless push for in-person classes in August.
To put the numbers in perspective: the positivity rate for children under 18 is over 31%. That is almost triple the approximately 11% positivity rate for the entire population of the state. And there are no signs the steady rise will slow down.
This raises concerns not only about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ relentless push to reopen schools in the fall for in-person classes, but also poses serious questions about how kids can transmit the virus to others, including people with underlying health conditions who are more susceptible to the disease.
In the study, researchers identified 5,706 people who were the first to report Covid-19 symptoms in their homes and then traced the 59,073 contacts of these individuals.
However, they acknowledged that the first person in a home to show symptoms is not always the first to have been infected and that children are less likely than adults to show symptoms, which means that the number of children who started the chain of transmission in their homes may have been underestimated.
A Warning From Researchers
According to the study, although children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, the risk of transmission is not zero. Most importantly, children and teens between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.
But the study authors also cautioned that “young children may show higher attack rates when the school closure ends, contributing to community transmission of Covid-19.”
In other words, they warned that the number of new infections propagated by children may rise when schools reopen. And when taking into account the number of people children interact with during their school day, this cancels out their smaller risk of infecting others.
“So long as children are not… incapable of passing the virus on, which does not seem to be the case, putting them together in schools, having them mix with teachers and other students will provide additional opportunities for the virus to move from person to person,” Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York told The New York Times.
DeSantis Pushes On
But despite the warnings of health officials, Gov. DeSantis maintains that the risk for kids is “extremely, extremely low,” and remains firm in his push to reopen Florida schools next month.