LA County Reports First Death of Covid-19 Patient Under 18

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Public health officials in Los Angeles County announced four new Covid-19 deaths Tuesday, including a child under 18 years old who had the novel coronavirus.

Eleven people have died from coronavirus in LA County, where an increase of more than 250 positive cases in the last 48 hours has raised the county’s total confirmed cases to 662.

A Caltrans freeway sign reads: “Wash your hands, Stay healthy, Avoid COVID-19” in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John Antczak)

County officials said during a virtual media briefing the child who died was from Lancaster – a high desert city north of LA – but said an investigation will determine the child’s condition before death, including whether they had any underlying health issues.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters confirmation of the child’s death should stand as a reminder to residents that the novel coronavirus is dangerous to everyone.

“It’s a devastating reminder that Covid-19 affects people of all ages,” Ferrer said.

So far, only 10 Covid-19 cases in LA County have been confirmed in children under 17, according to health data. In a statement, LA County Public Health said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will need to investigate.

“The juvenile fatality that the Los Angeles County Department Public Health reported earlier today will require further evaluation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the agency said. “Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality. Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time.”

Ferrer urged residents to follow heightened hygiene guidelines, obey quarantine protocols and to stay home from work if feeling unwell.

No homeless people or incarcerated residents have tested positive for the novel virus, Ferrer said, adding that county jails have been inspected for the virus.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday expanded and streamlined access to Covid-19 tests is now available for people age 65 and older and residents with underlying health conditions.

“I know we’re all anxious to return to our routines – to see the people we love and visit the places that make this city home,” Garcetti said in a tweet Tuesday. “But please take this health pandemic seriously — stay home and practice physical distancing. Every single choice you make could save a life or risk one.”

On Tuesday, California Governor Newsom discussed the Covid 19-related death of the child in Lancaster, saying it demonstrates “the enormity of this health crisis.”

“Young people can and will be impacted by this virus,” Newsom said. “In fact, young people are disproportionately testing positive in California.”

Approximately half of the 2100 confirmed cases of coronavirus in California are among people in the 18-49 age group, more than any other cohort. 

“This disease impacts everybody,” Newsom said.

The number of confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in California surged to nearly 2,500 by Tuesday afternoon, according to data from the LA Times.

The global pandemic has reached virtually every California county, halting normal activity in cities and crumbling economies as the number of confirmed positive Covid-19 cases worldwide surpassed 415,000 on Tuesday.

More than 18,500 people globally have died after contracting the novel coronavirus while nearly 108,000 people have recovered, according to John Hopkins University’s Covid-19 case tracker.

The outbreak was first detected in Wuhan, China, this past December.

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CNS Reporter Matthew Renda contributed to this report. 

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