Over 1 m US children diagnosed with COVID-19, pediatricians say

Over a million children in the U.S. under 18 have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the genesis of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital Association said Monday. (Photo: Getty images)

Over a million children in the U.S. under 18 have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital Association.

As of November 12, a total of 1,039,464 children have tested positive for the virus since the onset of the pandemic. And in the one-week period ending November 12, there were nearly 112,000, which is by far the highest weekly increase since the pandemic began, according to the report. 

The increase tracks surges in the virus in communities across the U.S..

"At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children," the report said, but warning that there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.

"As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic. We haven't seen a virus flash through our communities in this way since before we had vaccines for measles and polio," Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents pediatricians, said.

"We urgently need a new, nationwide strategy to control the pandemic, and that should include implementing proven public health measures like mask wearing and physical distancing," Goza added in a statement.

"This pandemic is taking a heavy toll on children, families and communities, as well as on physicians and other frontline medical teams. We must work now to restore confidence in our public health and scientific agencies, create fiscal relief for families and pediatricians alike, and support the systems that support children and families such as our schools, mental health care, and nutrition assistance," she said.

While severe illness and deaths remain rare, the group urged health authorities to do more to collect data on longer-term effects on the health of children.