Coronavirus hospitalizations among children rise by 23 percent in Florida

Coronavirus hospitalizations among children rise by 23 percent in Florida
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Coronavirus hospitalizations among children in Florida rose by more than 20 percent over a period of eight days in July as schools prepare to reopen across the state despite a sustained surge in infections. 

Florida health authorities released data showing that 303 children below the age of 18 were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of July 24. On July 16, 246 children had been hospitalized because of the disease, marking a 23 percent increase.

Cases among children also experienced a significant surge. According to the Florida Health Department, 31,150 confirmed cases as of July 24 were children. The figure represented a 34 percent increase from July 16, when 23,170 children had tested positive for the disease. 

The positivity rate for children currently sits at about 14 percent. Five children have died from the virus. 

Florida has emerged as an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., averaging more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day for the past two weeks.

Despite the sustained increase in infections, Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFirst death reported from Hurricane Sally in Alabama Trump tells Gulf Coast residents to prepare for 'extremely dangerous' Hurricane Sally Polls show trust in scientific, political institutions eroding MORE's (R) administration earlier this month unveiled an order requiring public and charter schools to open for at least five days each week starting in August. 

The American Federation of Teachers and its local affiliate, the Florida Education Association, have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the order, alleging that the measure violates the state constitution's requirement for "safe" and "secure" public education.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that, based on available evidence, children are not at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. The agency noted last week that children are less likely to experience severe symptoms or spread the virus in guidance that focused on the reopening of schools in the fall. 

The guidance's release came as President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE and other administration officials became more vocal about the need for schools to resume in-person classes in the coming months. Trump said last Thursday that "reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work."

Critics of the push to open schools have voiced fears about how adequately prepared a school district may be in the event of an outbreak. 

Some states have allowed districts to decide how they will proceed, while others have called for a mix of in-person and online learning. 

As of Monday, Florida had reported more than 432,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and about 5,900 deaths caused by it.