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US Coronavirus Child Cases Have Increased By 21% Since Early August, New Data Shows

(CNN) -- More than 70,000 new Covid-19 cases in children have been reported across the US since early August, new data shows.

Child cases increased by 21% between August 6 and August 20, according to an updated joint report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association. More than 440,000 children have been infected in the US since the start of the pandemic, the report said.

Despite the climbing numbers, severe illness in children from the virus is rare, the report said. But updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report posted earlier this month notes the rate of hospitalizations among children is increasing.

Of those hospitalized with the virus, about one in three children is admitted to intensive care -- the same as adults.

The new data reflects what experts have highlighted as students prepared for a return to school: while the risk for Covid-19-related complications seems to be lower, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to children and the virus -- including how big their role is in transmitting it.

As several Georgia schools moved forward with reopening earlier this month, hundreds of students and staff were asked to quarantine after districts reported Covid-19 cases among them.

In Florida, a legal battle may determine when students will make a physical return to class. The Florida Education Association, a teachers' union, sued after the state announced that all "brick and mortar" schools would have to reopen this month. A judge blocked that requirement Monday with a temporary injunction and the state has since appealed.

In Mississippi, nearly 4,000 students and close to 600 teachers are quarantined due to Covid-19 exposure, officials said. During a news conference Tuesday, state health officer Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs III announced 144 new teacher cases and 292 student cases for last week.

"These numbers that we're seeing in our schools are not unexpected," Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said during the news conference. "I am pleased the number of isolations that we're seeing, the quarantines that we're seeing."

"And I'm pleased that there are a large number of Mississippi kids that are sitting in a classroom right now learning in a safe environment and so we got to continue to monitor it, we've got to continue to be careful," he added.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced a "Bridge to School Plan" to assist students with their mental health needs at the start of the school year during the pandemic.

The plan includes a student curriculum, training for teachers and resources for in-person and remote learning, according to de Blasio.

"There is no health without mental health," the mayor told reporters.

De Blasio said new emotional support training will be available to teachers whenever they need it. All 1,600 public school principals across the city have been trained to assist with their mental and emotional needs, New York City School Chancellor Richard Carranza said.

Study: Immune response may play role in why men are more likely to die than women

Researchers have known for some time that men are more likely to die from Covid-19 than women -- and a new study sheds light on some possible key differences in immune responses to the disease that may help to explain why.

Women appeared to have a more robust immune response to the virus that causes Covid-19 compared with men in the study, which published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Researchers from Yale University analyzed blood samples, nasal swabs, saliva, urine and stool specimens from 98 adult Covid-19 patients admitted to the Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut between March 18 and May 9.

Researchers observed "a more robust T cell response among female patients compared to male patients," they wrote in the study. "Importantly, the T cell response was significantly and negatively correlated with patients' age in male, but not female, patients."

T cells are an important part of the immune system and protect the body from infection.

"The study is observational (limiting our ability to make any inference regarding cause and effect), the number of patients in some of the groups is low (making it difficult to draw any firm conclusions) and the underlying hypothesis is very broad (are there sex differences in immune parameters of COVID-19 patients?)" Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the UK's University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement Wednesday.

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