PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The CDC says that for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the rate of transmission of COVID-19 is higher in kids ages 6 to 13 years old than the rate is for people 65 years old and older. Doctors say there are a few contributing factors to this.
"What you're seeing is, this virus, it needs a place to land and with so many adults either having been vaccinated or have already been sick. Now the kids are bearing the brunt," said Dr. Andrew Carroll.
Another factor is that the U.K. variant is much more contagious. "We believe that the U.K. variant is in greater than 50% of current cases and so that's going to be the rampant one running around anyone who is going to get sick at this point," said Dr. Carroll.
Dr. Josh Labaer with ASU BioDesign also talked about the higher infection rate among younger people in his weekly COVID-19 briefing. "Because we've done a pretty good job of vaccinating the older population and because this variant does transmit very well in younger people, that's why we're seeing more infections in younger people," said Dr. Labaer. "A lot of kids who get it just get mild illnesses but just because of the sheer numbers, some kids are having bad infections."
Marissa King, whose daughter contracted COVID-19 last July at 12 years old, urges parents to take the warnings seriously. "It'll be a year in July for Joelle and we still have to see a cardiologist every couple weeks to a month. I mean, she's at high risk for blood clots now," said King. "If it can be avoided just simply by wearing a mask or making sure we keep protocols in schools to keep our kids safe, it's worth it. I wouldn't wish what we're going through on any parent, by any means."
Because vaccines are not yet available for kids, Dr. Carroll says the best form of protection is to wear a mask. "The more kids who get sick, the more likely the virus is to mutate and create a new variant, which might be even more contagious and might even be more deadly. We don't need to have this keep happening. We really need to reinforce kids having to mask up if they can," Dr. Carroll said. "If we ever want to get through this, we need to keep going on with every tool they have available to us. Getting rid of masks at this time is extremely dumb."
"Masks are just one simple, easy step to at least give a fighting chance. It's better to have that one extra fighting chance than none at all," said King.