BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — Last week alone, more than 3,400 Erie County residents got COVID-19, and of those new cases, 669 were under the age of 19.

“Young people, even though we’ve always thought that they don’t get sick, they don’t get infected, if they do get infected, they’re only mildly symptomatic, that is not true,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, commissioner of the Erie County Health department. “We know that there are cases in young people and they’re going to school. We’re seeing cases in the schools and they’re almost exclusively among students, not staff, and you know we are seeing children the hospital right now so this is a serious disease for all age groups.”

Only about two percent of the kids who are getting Covid recently end up in the hospital but on Wednesday, there were five children at Oishei Childrens Hospital admitted with Covid. On Tuesday, there were nine.

“These numbers are concerning. They’re not completely surprising but they are concerning no question,” said Dr. Joseph Chow, a pediatrician with WNY Immediate Care. He believes it’s because as more adults become vaccinated, they may take less precaution and spread it to children who cannot be vaccinated yet. And the variants are spreading easier.

Dr. Chow shared some perspective about why the NY State Department of Health is allowing elementary students to be within three feet of each other in classrooms, but not older students. Chow says it all goes by data which actually shows a consistent difference, but for unknown reasons.

“It seems from the data that the CDC has produced, it’s typically the younger population has different transmissibility, typically less than even your middle school or high schooler, so the direction we’ve been following is along the lines of the CDC.”

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.