Doctors and health experts in Arkansas and elsewhere have repeatedly said that younger children are less at risk of contracting COVID-19 and seem to spread it less and face fewer adverse risks than others. But a recent study finds that children younger than 5 years old may carry a viral load of COVID-19 as great or greater than older children and adults.

The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago led the study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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The study doesn’t prove that children spread the disease as often as others, but it’s something to consider as the state prepares to reopen schools.

From the New York Times:

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“I’ve heard lots of people saying, ‘Well, kids aren’t susceptible, kids don’t get infected.’ And this clearly shows that’s not true,” said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

 

“I think this is an important, really important, first step in understanding the role that kids are playing in transmission.”

Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist at the University of Manitoba, said: “Now that we’re rolling into the end of July and looking at trying to open up schools the next month, this really needs to be considered.”

“It definitely shows that kids do have levels of virus similar to and maybe even higher than adults,” Dr. [Taylor] Heald-Sargent said. “It wouldn’t be surprising if they were able to shed” the virus and spread it to others.