Fact check: Did Cohen overstate a ‘200% increase’ in COVID cases among kids during delta surge?


Secretary of the NC Department Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen speaks during a press conference after touring a large-scale vaccination site at UNC’s Friday Center in Chapel Hill Tuesday, Jan. 19 2021. UNC Hospitals hope to administer 2500 first covid-19 vaccine doses at the Friday Center by the end of this week.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Now that children aged 5 to 11 can get a COVID-19 vaccine, state leaders want them to get the shot as soon as possible.

We looked closer at one number North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen cited Thursday in explaining why parents should get their kids vaccinated.

Cohen spoke after she and Gov. Roy Cooper toured a pediatrician’s office in Chapel Hill and observed how they would vaccinate children a day after kids in that age group became eligible to receive the shots.

THE CLAIM: “In this last wave of the delta surge, we’ve seen almost a 200 percent increase in the number of cases we’re seeing in kids 5 to 11,” Cohen said.

THE FACTS: Cohen’s claim is reasonably accurate.

NCDHHS updates its demographic breakdowns of cases each week, but it does not separate them into that specific age group. 

The closest approximation is the 5-to-9 grouping, so we looked at the weekly count from mid-July — when the delta surge started in North Carolina — through the end of October.

The peak for that age group came during the last week in August, when there were 4,115 new cases reported.

That represented an increase of nearly 175 percent from the first week in August, when there were 1,503.

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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