PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics says 12 Arizona children had died of COVID-19 as of July 30, making this the deadliest state for children with the disease, behind New York.

Now, some doctors are asking for more detailed information about the children who become infected with the virus.

"We don't have good data on when children become severely ill. What are their underlying issues? Is it children with asthma and children with obesity? What are we seeing in this childhood data?" said Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, who is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.

Bhuyan says the report is the latest evidence that shows children do come down with COVID-19 infections. That runs contrary to what has been said repeatedly by politicians, who have advocated for sending children back to in-person school.

The report shows that the number of children across the country infected with COVID-19 increased by 97,000 cases in the last two weeks of July. Researchers say that data indicates that children were not getting infected early on because they were staying at home.

"We just didn't see cases because they were sheltering in place. And now that we have schools opening. Once again, I do predict that we are going to see a rise in cases in children," said Bhuyan.

Bhuyan also says the data shows children in minority and underserved communities are at a higher risk of becoming infected.

"The health of students, teachers, staff and families is at the heart of state benchmarks developed to help guide local decisions on when and how to safely resume in-person instruction. Driven by science and data, they were established in collaboration with local public health officials and education partners," wrote Steve Elliot, who is a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Health Services.

"ADHS has partnered with testing providers and school districts to connect students, staff, their families and the community to access to no cost COVID-19 testing. Some of these school districts include Chandler Unified School District, Mesa Public Schools, Great Hearts and Cartwright School District. The testing is being done in partnership with Embry Women's Health. We continue to look for additional partners and school districts to expand access to testing," wrote Elliot.

By the end of August, the state is set to have the capacity to test 60,000 people every day. But there is no plan to test students and teachers across the state.

Dr. Bhuyan argues that any plan that will effectively keep students safe and healthy will require testing.

"When a school opens, that entire community is impacted. It just means now there's a chance for an increased transmission risk because children are going to bring that home to their parents," said Bhuyan.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
 
 

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