Only days after reopening, and a few school systems in the Tennessee Valley have already begun to see students test positive for COVID-19.
While the CDC reports most COVID-19 infections in youth are mild or asymptomatic, data shows some kids do end up in the hospital.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said approximately 80,000 children (under the age of 18) have been tested for COVID-19 so far.
“We have had probably in the range of over 11,000 hospitalizations in Alabama since the beginning of SARSCoV2,” said Landers. “96 of those hospitalizations were children.”
The CDC also reports 33% percent of kids who were hospitalized ended up in the ICU because of the virus.
In Alabama, the juvenile COVID-19 ICU admittance rate is slightly lower.
“I just looked at our hospital data and our range is probably a little over 20 percent of children that have been hospitalized have required ICU care in Alabama,” Landers added.
But with only 15 percent ICU bed capacity remaining in the state, an influx of more severe youth cases could cause a strain on already limited resources.
“I think that we have to be very cautious about, first of all, students not going to school when they’re sick,” said Landers.
Landers, who is also a practicing pediatrician, encourages parents to do symptom assessments before their students walk out the door each day.
She said one of the only ways to keep juvenile case numbers down right now, is to help slow the spread within schools and similar settings.
The CDC said even though one third of children hospitalized for COVID-19 ended up in the ICU, the case fatality rate remains low even among more severe juvenile cases.