BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s Department of Health reported two more deaths of people in their 20s Thursday. A majority of the 580 new cases reported are those under age 40.

Since the pandemic began, the youngest person to die from COVID—19 complications was 15-year-old Dar’yana Dyson from Baltimore County back in May. More than 10 thousand Marylanders under age 19 have tested positive since the pandemic began.

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Dashboard For Thursday, August 20, 2020

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that children in the asymptomatic and early infection phase had higher levels of the virus than hospitalized adults with over seven days of symptoms.

The study looked at 192 children and young adults up to age 22 with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infections. Of the 49 who tested positive for the virus, only 25 had a fever.

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However, viral load in the infected kids was “significantly higher” than adults with severe COVID-19 cases, the researchers said. Higher viral loads increase the risk of contagion, which raises more concerns as many students across the country return to school.

“The big concern here is that children and young adults are going to be one of the major drivers of ongoing COVID-19 spread, carry the virus into their homes, exposing their parents or maybe their grandparents who are at higher risk of developing severe disease,” Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, a internal medicine physician in California, told CBSN.

As Maryland moves closer to the new school year, there are concerns about whether there should be any in-person classes—and what to do about teachers and support staff afraid for their safety.

In an online discussion, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tackled controversies around education during this pandemic.

Schools systems should consider placements outside in-person instruction for teachers who are in high-risk groups according to Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH, with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “For teachers and staff who are in known risk groups, school districts should really think about potentially alternative assignments for them,” she said.

She also spoke about the issue of mass testing in schools. “Regardless of how we use tests, we absolutely still have to maintain the safety protocols, the distancing and the masks and other things because no test is perfect,” she said.

At the college level, videos of students partying in large groups on and off campus nationwide have sparked safety concerns.

And from elementary to high schools, teachers are fighting back about being forced to return to classrooms.

In Maryland, most schools plan to start off virtually.

“This year, schools will have to go the distance and show they can deliver strong academic rigor in their content,” said Annette Anderson, PhD, with the Johns Hopkins School of Education.

The state superintendent said when students start attending classes in person again, they will be required to wear masks.

“We have to help our young people to know how to keep their masks on. This is unprecedented in that we’re asking young people to keep masks on for six and seven hours,” Anderson said.

She also noted more study should be done across all age groups to determine the appropriate class sizes for virtual instruction and stressed the importance of making sure all students have access to technology and can bridge the “digital divide.”

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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