Children aged 5 to 17 make up a higher proportion of new COVID-19 infections in Oklahoma than at any time in the pandemic so far, a phenomenon one expert says is worth monitoring.
"It looks like about 14% of the positive cases are happening in school age children, and that's the highest it's ever been," said Dr. David Kendrick, founder and CEO of MyHealth Access Network and professor of medical informatics at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, on a Tuesday press conference held virtually by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition.
"I looked over all the way back to March, and that is the highest percentage, as was last week and the week before," Kendrick said.
Kendrick said it's possible the increasing trend could be due to one or more new variants of the disease, such as the so-called "U.K. strain," but it's too early to say for certain. He noted that while children are a "largely low-risk group," increases in infection among children tend to precede increases in infection among older age groups as they bring the disease home to parents and other relatives.
Kendrick did note that overall test positivity in Oklahoma has dropped, as have hospitalizations and new cases, but he also said that that good news comes with caveats.
"The numbers we're looking at now... would have caused a panic in the population in April, so just remember how your understanding of the norm changes as we get used to where we were," Kendrick said.
"Let's keep that in mind and recognize that coming off a peak does not mean there's not another peak coming," Kendrick said. "Please don't take this as fearmongering, I just want to make sure that we're all understanding that this is an evolving organism, this virus, and it seems to be throwing new curveballs at us, the human race."