Children account for almost 1 in 5 new COVID-19 September cases in El Paso
This story has been updated with age data through Sept. 30.
Children are making up an increasing proportion of new COVID-19 cases as El Paso County sees a second wave of novel coronavirus infections.
Almost one in five new COVID-19 cases this month have been in people 19 and younger, well above earlier rates in the pandemic.
The numbers of new COVID-19 cases and infections requiring hospitalization this week were at rates not seen in more than a month.
Here’s our weekly look at COVID-19 data for El Paso County.
El Paso County reported more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases this past week, the third straight weekly increase and the highest weekly number since Aug. 9-15.
More than 200 new cases were reported on Friday alone, the first time that happened since Aug. 13.
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Infections among young people
As El Paso moves into its second wave of COVID-19 cases (the first was from mid-June through mid-August), children are making up a higher proportion of infections than earlier in the pandemic.
In September, people 19 and younger accounted for almost one of every five new COVID-19 cases during the month. In August, they comprised one in seven cases; in July, it was one in nine cases.
The rising proportion of children among COVID-19 infections in El Paso began in the middle of September. In the first half of the month, only about 12 percent of all cases were in people 19 and younger. In the days since then, people under 19 accounted for just over 20 percent of new El Paso cases.
The start of the young person spike corresponds with Labor Day weekend and the days following. Many schools began bringing some children back on campus after Labor Day. Some districts in El Paso County have resumed in-class instruction, while others have allowed students participating in sports and other extracurricular activities to practice on campus.
El Paso Independent School District announced Friday it was scrapping plans to begin bringing students back to classrooms this week. The district pointed out that the waiver granted by the Texas Education Agency allowing for continued online learning requires EPISD to resume classroom instruction by Oct. 19. The Ysleta and Socorro school districts also have waivers that expire Oct. 19.
The number of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization reached 150 this past week for the first time in more than a month. The number of cases requiring treatment in intensive care units — which had been hovering between the mid-40s and mid-50s for weeks — shot up to 65 this past week.
The number of reported COVID-19 deaths in El Paso County surpassed 500 this past week. Only cancer and heart disease kill more than 500 people in a typical year in El Paso.