An infant who had tested positive for COVID-19 has died, the first known death of a child younger than a year old infected with the virus in the United States. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported Saturday the death of the infant in Chicago who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
"There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death," IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said.
"We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us."
Illinois Governor J B Pritzker told reporters, "I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child. Upon hearing it, I admit I was immediately shaken, and it’s appropriate for any of us to grieve today."
He said it is especially "sorrowful for the family of this very small child for the years stolen from this infant".
"We should grieve. We should grieve with our family of state employees. With the many people who we''ve already lost to this virus, young and old. We should grieve for the loss of a sense of normalcy that we left behind just a few weeks ago. It''s okay, today, to grieve."
The Illinois governor also said that the virus is "rarely fatal" among children.
Older adults are at higher risk of severe illness, and more than 85 per cent of deaths in Illinois are among individuals 60 years of age and older. However, people of all ages are suffering severe illness. IDPH reported 465 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 13 new deaths.
Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 3,491 cases, including 47 deaths, in 43 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years.
Newborns, babies and young children have so far seemed to be mostly unaffected by coronavirus and any symptoms in children have only been mild.
The US has the highest number of new coronavirus cases in the world, more than 120,000, although its death toll of more than 2,000 is still below that of other countries including Italy, Spain and China.
More than 450 US deaths occurred over the 24-hour period prior to Saturday afternoon. The Chicago baby was among 13 new deaths in Illinois.