Fact check: Are kids accounting for most new COVID cases in NC?


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With school back in session and no vaccine for the youngest of them, children account for a significant — and concerning — chunk of new COVID-19 infections.

But a tweet from the Secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources might overstate just how big that share is.

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THE CLAIM: In a tweet that circulated earlier this week, D. Reid Wilson said: “For the first time in NC, the age group with the most cases is 0-17 year olds – children.”

THE FACTS: A strong claim, and we wanted to know where Wilson’s numbers came from.

So we asked Wilson spokeswoman Michele Walker, who said she is trying to find the source.

We also checked the state Department of Health and Human Resources data dashboard and found that while the overall trend might align with a different, larger point, the numbers don’t seem to back up his specific claim.

DHHS publishes a demographic breakdown of new cases each Monday. Those have consistently shown the 25-to-49-year-old age group accounting for the most cases.

The most recent numbers, for Aug. 22-28, show the 0-17 age group with 9,645 of the 38,902 cases that week.

But the 25-to-49 group had 14,357 of them.

But if Wilson is implying that children are making up a larger share of the weekly cases, he’s right.

The slice of the total belonging to the 0-17 group climbed steadily through August.

Kids made up 25 percent of the total cases both in the state and nationally for the most recent week, with that share in North Carolina growing steadily from 19 percent to 20 percent to 22 percent during the three preceding weeks.

Of course, there’s a simple explanation why the kids’ share of cases is growing: A big chunk of that group — those younger than 12 years old — is not eligible for the vaccine yet, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says the case counts have “increased exponentially” while climbing to levels not seen in the U.S. since the winter surge.

Because children that young can’t get vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending schools continue to follow its masking and distancing recommendations.

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