COVID cases rise 50% among school age children across Tennessee since early August

Healthcare workers screen a patient for COVID-19 at a drive-through coronavirus testing site on March 18, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. Arlington County and Virginia Hospital Center have opened a temporary drive-through coronavirus testing site for Arlington residents and county employees with a letter from a licensed health-care provider. The results for patients tested are estimated to be available in 5-7 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At a COVID-19 briefing Thursday morning, Nashville Public Health Director Dr. Michael Caldwell cautioned that the city is seeing an unwelcome upsurge in coronavirus infections.

Among the driving factors? Children, from infants to 17 years old, whose case rates have spiked 93% since the beginning of September, Caldwell said. Case rates mark the prevalence of disease not the total number.

Across Tennessee, the number of positive cases among school-age children — a definition that excludes children under age five — increased more than 60 percent between August 1 and October 14.  Some private schools, public schools districts and sports teams resumed in-person activities during that time period.

As of Wednesday, 24,348 Tennessee school-age children had tested positive for the virus, up from 16,178 on August 1.

In Nashville, Dr. Caldwell said several clusters involving children and their family members were tied to sports teams and weekend activities such as bonfires and sleepovers, rather than in-class spread.

Metro Nashville Public Schools schools reopened for in-class learning on Tuesday for elementary school students in the first phase of a staggered reopening over the next three months.

Every county in Tennessee is seeing increases in school age children who have been infected with coronavirus, according to data published by the Tennessee Department of Health.

In some counties, the increases have been steep: In Knox County infections among school age children have doubled since August 1.  In Williamson County, there were 579 positive cases among school-age kids as of August 1. There are now 1,051.  The number of positive cases among kids in Shelby and Hamilton counties increased by roughly a third each.

Rural counties have also seen increases in positive school-aged kids since August 1: Sullivan County in Northeast Tennessee has seen a 75% spike; Dyer County in west Tennessee has seen their kids’ case counts increase by 52%.

Here’s a snapshot of the number of positive coronavirus cases among Tennessee school-age kids by county. The case counts are cumulative — and include children who no longer have the virus.