Fact Sheet: Kids and COVID By the numbers
Two years after the first COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in the United States, kids are back in school, more of them have health insurance, and life has begun to look a bit more “normal.” But that doesn’t mean the kids are alright.
Nearly 13 million U.S. children have contracted childhood COVID, more than 241,000 have lost a caregiver. The youngest children in our country remain unvaccinated. And we have only just begun to considerthe long-term effects of childhood COVID.
The pandemic and its economic fallout have had an outsized impact on every aspect of the health and well-being of U.S. children. The numbers below tell only part of that story. But they are a good place to start.
Despite early misconceptions that children don’t get COVID, childhood COVID accounts for 19% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States.
- 12.9+million: Number of U.S. children who have contracted childhood COVID
- 120,344: Number of U.S. children hospitalized with childhood COVID
- 7,880: Number of U.S. children who developed the serious condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC)
- 1,484: Number of children who have died in the United States with childhood COVID
- 13: Where COVID-19 ranks among the top 15 causes of death in U.S. children
- 19 million: Total number of U.S. children under 5, for whom there is still no vaccine
Our country’s children are in the throes of a full-blown mental health crisis.
- 31%: Percentage increase in mental health-related emergency room visits in the U.S. by 12-17-year-olds in 2020
- 5: Where suicide ranks among the top 15 causes of death in U.S. children
- 0: The number of states that meet the recommended ratio of one social worker for every 250 students
- 4,000+: The number of students served by a single school psychologist in West Virginia, Missouri, Texas, Alaska, and Georgia.
- 247,000+: The number of U.S. children grieving a caregiver who died of COVID
At the height of the pandemic in 2021, government programs in the American Rescue Plan cut child poverty in the U.S. by 36%.
- 3.7 million: The number of U.S. children who slid back into poverty when improvements to the child tax credit expired
- 6.7 million: Number of children expected to lose health coverage in the United States when the Public Health Emergency ends
- 1-in-6: The number of U.S. children who experienced food insecurity last year
- 22%: Percentage of U.S. households with children who are behind on rent
Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and other children of color in the United States are far more likely to contract childhood COVID, be hospitalized, lose a caregiver to the disease, suffer economic consequences, and endure other pandemic fallout than their white counterparts.
- 65%: Percentage of U.S. children who lost a caregiver to COVID who belong to racial and ethnic minorities
- 2x: The likelihood of Black or Hispanic children losing a caregiver to COVID, v. white children
- 4.5x: The likelihood of American Indian/Alaska Native children losing a caregiver to COVID, v. white children
- 29%: Percentage of Black renters with children who are behind on rent, v. 22% for all U.S. renters with children
- 3x: The rate of food insecurity among Black and Hispanic households v. white households
- 70%: The percentage of total U.S. MISC cases that occurred in children who are Black or Hispanic
- 3 million: The number of marginalized K-12 students — those with disabilities, experiencing homelessness, in foster care or who are migrants — who stopped attending school
Where we go from here:
Emergency pandemic aid — improved tax credits, increased food benefits, economic impact payments, and other child-centered initiatives — achieved historic levels of well-being for U.S. children. These investments reversed more than a decade of decline in federal spending on children, helping lift nearly 4 million out of poverty and producing the largest year-to-year increase in the share of U.S. federal spending on kids since First Focus on Children began tracking 15 years ago.
We must capitalize on this progress. And propose long-term solutions to these long-term problems.