SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California health officials have reported the state's first coronavirus death of a child.
The state Department of Public Health said Friday the victim was a teenager and had other health conditions.
The death occurred in the Central Valley but officials at the state Department of Public Health released no other details, citing privacy rules. The Central Valley is the state’s major agricultural region and recently has become one of California’s hot spots for the virus.
"Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of this young person whose death is a tragic and powerful reminder of how serious COVID-19 can be," said Dr. Sonia Angell the Director of the California Department of Public Health.
It’s extremely rare for children to die of the coronavirus. As of mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 228 children had died of the disease in the U.S., less than 0.2% of the nation’s deaths.
In California, more than 9,000 people have died from the virus, and three-quarters were 65 and older. Only about 9% of California’s half-million confirmed virus cases are children, and very few have suffered conditions serious enough for hospitalization.
Scientists still aren't certain why children don't seem to be as seriously affected by the virus as adults.
In March, Los Angeles County officials said a 17-year-old boy died of the virus. At the time it was believed to be the first death of a child, but days later local health officials walked back the initial finding, saying it was possible he died from something else. County health officials said the case would need to be evaluated by the Centers for Disease Control.
Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, said the boy from his city and died from septic shock after being admitted to the hospital with respiratory issues.
How likely children are to contract and spread the virus is a key question as leaders in California and elsewhere determine if and how to safely reopen schools this fall. Most California counties are now on a state monitoring list because of rising virus cases and and may not reopen schools for in-person instruction until they are off the list for 14 days.