On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced the death of a 17-year-old boy from Lancaster, California, due to COVID-19. The teenager died of septic shock, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. He did not have any pre-existing conditions.
“This is a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages,” Los Angeles County Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer said.
“A teenager in good health, succumbed to this virus,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Hours after the announcement, however, county health officials clarified that the teenager’s death “will require further evaluation” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex, and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality,” officials said. The boy's test results came back after his death. Health officials are now working to confirm if his demise is linked to COVID-19.
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If the teenager’s death is determined to be connected with COVID-19, it would be the first known death of a child, or a person under age 18, in the U.S.
As of press time, the U.S. has 54,941 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 784 deaths. A total of 379 patients have already recovered from the disease. California has been one of the worst-hit U.S. states during the pandemic.
Kids are not immune to COVID-19 and usually display milder or no symptoms
Based on early and limited data on COVID-19 patients, two studies have found that kids are less likely to catch the disease. Researchers have yet to identify the reason behind it. Data also showed that when kids get infected, they have milder or no symptoms at all.
Still, children are not immune to COViD-19. China, Germany, and Singapore all reported cases of children getting sick with the new virus. Two babies in China were just days-old when they tested positive for COVID-19.
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The risk of children dying due to COVID-19 is also very low at 0.2% for ages 10 to 19 and none for ages 0 to 9, based on data and analysis on WorldMeter, a website that tracks coronavirus cases globally. In China, the disease caused only two known child deaths, according to AFP reports, and one of the infants had a pre-existing intestinal condition.
The CDC report released last week found that one in five U.S. cases was among people ages 20 to 44. Studies based on initial cases recorded in January showed that COVID-19 infected mostly adults with the median age range of 49 and 56.
Still, the risk for infection is higher for the elderly and individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as heart issues, diabetes, and respiratory diseases.
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