One Man Infects 91 People, Including 18 Children and Teens
Case study reveals the risks of indoor gathering and the role of infectious kids
A case study in Ohio revealed this week illustrates how one person at an indoor gathering can spark dozens of Covid-19 cases, including the infections of several children who go on to infect others.
At a church event in Ohio, the single case branched out from the initial transmissions in the church, shown in blue in the graphic above, to at least 33 secondary cases beyond the event and at least five third-level cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Five of the initial infections that occurred in the church were among children or teens, including a 6-year-old who spread the disease to three siblings. One of the secondary infections involved a 1-year-old. In the end, at least 91 people had been infected, including 18 children and teens.
“It spread like wildfire,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
The event is one of many so-called “superspreader events,” in which a single infected person has spawned dozens or hundreds of other Covid-19 cases. By far, most of these situations start indoors, studies show.
More important, the case study shows, as scientists have already found, that even small children can catch, carry and transmit Covid-19 quite efficiently. Kids 10 and older are now thought to be just as likely as adults to spread the coronavirus, and younger kids perhaps about half as likely, as I reported recently.
It’s not the first superspreader event involving children. At a sleepover camp in Georgia this summer, at least 260 kids and adults contracted Covid-19, including at least 51% of those ages six to 10.
Though children are less likely to suffer serious outcomes from the disease, they are not in any way “immune,” as President Trump recently suggested.
Covid-19 has killed 15 infants, 10 kids ages 1–4, and 20 kids ages 5–14, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Coronavirus in Kids project, which investigates cases beyond what’s found in the official numbers, estimates that nearly 2.5 million American children 17 and younger have been infected, and 1,011 have been admitted to pediatric intensive care units. There have been 97 deaths of kids and teens up to age 19, based on data from just 26 states, according to the group’s analysis.