If You're This Age, You're Most Likely to Infect Loved Ones With COVID

A disconcerting new study from the CDC sheds light on who is spreading the coronavirus at home.

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Whether or not schools across the U.S. should reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic has been a hotly debated topic between those who are eager for a quick return to "normalcy" and those who are concerned about the public health risk of putting kids and teachers back in classrooms. Now, there's some new research throwing a wrench in the conversation as it hints at just how much of a role children play in transmitting the novel coronavirus to others at home. A recently published study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at young people in South Korea and found that those between the ages of 10 and 19 are the most likely to spread the coronavirus in their households.

The large contact tracing study was published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal from the CDC. The researchers looked at 5,700 people who reported coronavirus symptoms between January 20 to March 27, which is when South Korea closed schools. Researchers then tracked nearly 60,000 contacts from the original cases. Overall, "we detected COVID-19 in 11.8 percent of household contacts; rates were higher for contacts of children than adults," the researchers said.

Teenage girl wearing protective mask for school during medical crisis of epidemic virus spreading covid 19
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Specifically, the results showed that children in middle and high school with coronavirus were most likely to transmit the disease. Nearly 19 percent of the contacts who shared a home with sick patients in that age group also contracted COVID. Children younger than 10 years old were the least likely to spread the disease (about five percent of their contacts got sick).

The second-most likely age group to spread the coronavirus in their household were 70 to 79 year olds, who saw 18 percent of their household contacts become infected. In third were 60 to 69 year olds with 17 percent.

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It's worth noting that the researchers only traced the contacts of children who felt sick. So there is a reasonable chance that asymptomatic children yielded even more cases than the study reported. "The number of cases might have been underestimated because all asymptomatic patients might not have been identified," the researchers note.

A recent poll conducted by Axios-Ipsos indicates that 71 percent of U.S. parents believe it would be risky to send their children back to school in the fall, but some governors are still planning to reopen schools in the coming months. Meanwhile, a number of major school systems have already postponed in-person classes for the coming school year, including in Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York City. If you are curious which states are in the most dire circumstances with the coronavirus, check out 11 States Where Locking Down Again Is Absolutely Necessary.

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