By Elisabeth Smith

STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) —  In the past nine days, 204 kids in Stanislaus County have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the county public health officer said.

Dr. Julie Vaishampayan put out a message to her community Monday about child coronavirus infections. She prefaced her message by saying, “Stanislaus County children need to be in school. We all want this; the teacher, the school administrators, the community, all of us want children to learn in a classroom.”

As Stanislaus County sees a surge in coronavirus infections, Dr. Vaishampayan noted that the county has the highest infection rate based on its population and highest test positivity rate in the state last week. The county reported 234 new cases Monday, totaling 8,228 confirmed cases and 95 deaths.

READ: Governor Announces Two-Tiered Strategy To Slow Spread Of Coronavirus In Central Valley

She said since the beginning fo the pandemic, 669 Stanislaus County school-aged children, ages 5-18, have tested positive. She went on to say that children do spread the disease and can get severe disease, though the risk increases with age.

“Younger children don’t seem to spread COVID-19 as much as adults, but they do spread the virus,” Dr. Vaishampayan wrote. “School-aged children don’t interact only with other children. They interact with many adult staff at school. They go home where adults of all ages live and spread COVID-19.”

Stanislaus County schools are required to do distance learning until the county has been off the state’s watch list for two weeks.

READ: Gov. Newsom Mandates Schools In Counties On California’s Watch List To Start Year With Distance Learning

The public health officer encouraged the Stanislaus County community to decrease the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings, washing their hands frequently and practicing physical distancing, so their children could return to school.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an additional $52 million for the Central Valley, including Stanislaus County, as part of its coronavirus response. The funding will be used to improve isolation, quarantine and testing protocols, as well as to help essential workers. It’s part of a $499 million grant from the CDC.

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