Surveillance, Transmission Dynamics, and Disparities of COVID-19 among Chicago Children

Project: Research project

Project Details


Children generally have a well-described and important role in propagating viral respiratory illnesses in the community. However, the role of children in SARS-CoV-2 transmission specifically is a critical knowledge gap that requires urgent investigation as Chicago children return to daycare and school. Limited access to COVID-19 testing in children, coupled with predominantly asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 illness in children, have impaired pediatric COVID-19 case ascertainment. This notable gap in pediatric COVID-19 epidemiology hinder understanding of the role of children in SARS-CoV-2 transmission, identification of pediatric COVID-19 hotspots, and characterization of COVID-19-associated disparities in children. We aim to rapidly and comprehensively address several high-priority research areas related to COVID-19 epidemiology in Chicago children. We have organized a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research team to address these current knowledge gaps and achieve our study goals, as described specifically below. 1. Resource gap: Limited access to pediatric COVID-19 testing o Utilizing clinical expertise and infrastructure at Chicago children’s hospitals, we will expand availability for testing of Chicago children with suspected COVID-19 and their close contacts. 2. Knowledge gap: Limited identification of pediatric COVID-19 hotspots o We will identify areas of Chicago with high prevalence of COVID-19 in children and identify differences in temporal pattern of disease activity between children and adults. 3. Knowledge gap: Limited understanding of the role of children in SARS-CoV-2 transmission o Through ongoing passive surveillance and contact tracing by CDPH, we will determine the frequency by which children with COVID-19 have known prior exposures to COVID-19 and the frequency by which contacts of children with COVID-19 develop asymptomatic and/or symptomatic COVID-19. o We will deploy LCH and CCH pediatric mobile health units to CDPH-identified pediatric COVID-19 hotspots to perform active surveillance of COVID-19 in Chicago Public School students. o We will perform SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing to identify genetic relationships between SARS-CoV-2 isolated from children and their contacts to map pediatric COVID-19 transmission networks 4. Knowledge gap: Limited understanding of factors associated with COVID-19-related racial-ethnic disparities o We will conduct a multi-level longitudinal survey of children and families from selected Chicago public schools to identify the modifiable and non-modifiable factors related to racial-ethnic disparities in COVID-19. Impact: Knowledge gained will inform school attendance policies, pediatric COVID-19 prevention strategies, interventions for addressing pediatric COVID-19-related disparities, and enhanced public health response to COVID-19.
Effective start/end date10/1/209/30/22


  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago (Agreement 925815)
  • Walder Foundation (Agreement 925815)


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