Pediatric COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations see 20% spike since return to classroom

Suwannee County Schools welcomed students in the building for the first day since last spring...
Suwannee County Schools welcomed students in the building for the first day since last spring on Monday.(WCTV)
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 5:25 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - According to state data, more than 12,000 Florida children 17 and under have been infected with COVID-19 since schools first began opening their doors.

Groups representing both teachers and parents are demanding more transparency.

The pediatric cases since August 10 represent a 20% increase.

Pediatric hospitalizations also jumped almost 20% over the same period.

Dr. Danielle Thomas with the Florida PTA says it’s difficult to draw any hard conclusions from the numbers.

“In some of those cases, the district has said that it’s not attributed to students being back at school,” said Thomas.

FEA President Andrew Spar said the problem is that it’s impossible to tell how many are directly related to school reopening.

“We need transparency, we need truth, we need leadership and that’s missing right now,” said Spar.

A new ad from FEA takes aim at the state for not publicizing school case data.

The Department of Health had promised to do so this week, but so far it has not.

“What is the governor hiding that he will not release this information? And when he releases this information, the question I think we all should be asking is can we trust it,” said Spar.

We identified at least 33 school districts that are publishing local data on their websites: Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, DeSoto, Duval, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Nassau, Orange, Osceola, Paso, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Taylor and Volusia.

One additional district was publishing its case data until the state told it to stop.

“Parents have the right to know, people who work in our schools have the right to know and we need this data,” said Spar.

All but nine Florida counties have a pediatric positivity rate above 10%.

The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum 5% positivity rate before reopening classrooms.

Since the start of the pandemic, nine Florida K-12-aged children have died from COVID-19.

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