COVID-19 cases in local children rise by 32 percent since schools started

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Since schools in our area reopened, coronavirus cases have increased by 32 percent in children 17 and under, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

Baker County was the first school district to resume classes on August 10. The state’s report for August 10 showed a total of 39,735 cases in children throughout the state since March. Locally, there were a total of 2,495 children who have tested positive since March.

On Thursday, September 17, the local cases were at 3,301 — a 32 percent increase.

Testing has also gone up in the local area - by 45.6 percent. On August 10, a total of 4,269 children were tested for COVID-19. By September 17, a total of 32,922 children were tested. One positive piece of data from the past month is that the daily positivity rate has gone down. For the total metro area, the average positivity rate for children has decreased by 5.46 percent.

However all of the local counties are above The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of a 5 percent positivity rate before reopening classrooms. In children alone, the lowest positivity rate is in Clay County — 8.4 percent. The highest is in Baker County — 11.2 percent.

One of the factors that makes tracking the data difficult is that the pediatric report changes format throughout August. On August 10, the report shows the total number of cases. On August 15, the report only shows the numbers from the past two weeks. The state and county report doesn’t help either because of the age bracket formats. They breakdown cases by ages 0-4, 5-14, and 15-24. Since that age bracket goes over the age of 18, the exact estimates can’t be made. By August 25, the pediatric report goes back to tracking all cases.

Four of the five local school districts have published an online COVID-19 dashboard. Three of them update weekly, while Duval County Public Schools updates daily at 8 p.m.

Since the start of the pandemic, eight children have died from COVID-19 complications in the state of Florida. There was a reported ninth death of a two-year-old boy from Escambia County earlier this week, but that death has been removed from the state’s report.

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a General Assignment Reporter for 104.5 WOKV.