Coronavirus does not affect children at the same level that it has hit adults, but new numbers published this week show that since the start of the pandemic, more than 500,000 children have been infected. The news comes just as schools across New Jersey and the rest of the country begin to reopen, either in-person, remote or via hybrid models.

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Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows a 16 percent rise in cases over the past two weeks, though experts say there has been an increase in childhood cases throughout the summer. Six states including Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota had the biggest increases in new cases.

“These numbers are a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously,” said AAP President Dr. Sally Goza in a statement. “While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities.”

As of September 3, there have been 513,415 reported cases of the virus in U.S. children, a number that, at just over half a million, the AAP calls “a grim milestone.” It should be noted that the study is limited by the differences in the ways individual states report their findings.

Children account for 9.8 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Although kids are less likely to develop a severe case of the virus, they are often asymptomatic, which can lead to them unknowingly transmitting the disease to older, more vulnerable adults.

According to the study, children were 0-0.3 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, and 18 states reported zero child deaths. In states reporting, 0-0.2 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death.

“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children,” said the report.