COVID-19 cases among kids on the rise as schools consider whether to return to classes

Minnesota is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases among kids and teens, just as some districts are preparing to reopen in-person classes.

Just in the last three weeks, cases among kids ages zero to 19 have gone from about 5,400 to 6,300 to 8,200 in the last round of numbers.

But local health experts say it’s the next age group, 20 to 29, that is likely responsible for it. Officials say the spread is likely because they’re going to parties and bars without following safety guidelines and spreading it at home.

"So, naturally you get people in their 20s that are picking up the infection this way," explains Minnesota Department of Health Deputy Epidemiologist Dr. Richard Danila. "They’re going back to their homes and then transmit it to their younger siblings and then the younger siblings, being it's summer, are gathering up together in social settings and so forth."

This is going on as schools try to decide whether kids are in or out of the classroom. In the last two days, MDH says they’ve gotten 75 calls from districts looking for help.

"Understanding the data and to go over the data with us and to talk about what they’re doing for their planning," said Dr. Danila. "Depending on where they are on the spectrum."

The two-week county-by-county numbers are just a guideline for districts, as they can swing up or down any time. No one argues it’s a tough call. Dr. Danila says while schools can implement good safety guidelines, he's concerned that after class the kids will gather without any protection. The health department is watching other states that have already started in-class learning.

"The first day of school or the second day of school, they’ve already had cases which necessitate quarantining," said the doctor. "Sometimes the entire classroom, sometimes the entire school."

MDH is also watching for post-COVID inflammatory syndrome that has shown up in 16 Minnesota kids. Some of the kids never even had COVID symptoms.

One other issue making headlines is a Wisconsin resident who tested positive for COVID-19 twice. Dr. Danila says basically no one really knows what it means: Is it just the inactive virus still floating around or is it a new infection?