July 29, 2020 -- The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among kids in Florida has jumped during the past week.
Between July 16-24, the number of positive cases for children and teens under age 18 moved from 23,170 to 31,150, according to the Florida Department of Health, a 34% increase.
During the same 8-day period, the number of children hospitalized also jumped from 246 to 303, which is a 23% increase. Deaths among children increased from four to five.
The test positivity rate among children also rose from 13.4% to 14.4%, according the health department report. High positivity rates are on both coasts, such as Martin County, which includes Jensen Beach and Jupiter Island, at 25%; Collier County, which includes Naples, at 22%; and Miami-Dade County at nearly 20%.
For now, schools are still ordered to open in Florida next month for in-person teaching 5 days a week. For some districts, classes start in the next 2 weeks.
Some Florida school districts have opted not to follow the emergency order from the Florida Department of Education, according to News 4 Jax. Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, will used a phased approach and start with face-to-face instruction for part of the week.
In Jacksonville in particular, COVID-19 cases among kids are up 62% in the last 2 weeks, the news station reported. Teachers are protesting the school district’s decision to require in-person classes, even for part of the week.
More than 23,000 students in Duval County have signed up for online distance learning for the fall, according to the news station. About 83% of students still need to choose a plan.
“I think the data speaks for itself. Yes, there has been increased hospitalization,” Mobeen Rathore, a pediatric infectious disease specialist in Jacksonville, told CNN. “This is an equal opportunity virus. It doesn’t care about the age.”