Cause of Death for Infant Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 Still Under Investigation: Medical Examiner

April 6, 2020 Updated: April 6, 2020

The official cause of death for an infant who tested positive for COVID-19 in Connecticut is still under investigation, The Epoch Times has confirmed.

The 6-week-old baby died on March 26 at the Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Gov. Ned Lamont announced that day that the death of the child was caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to tell you that almost all the fatalities are related to people who are over 70 and over 80, but we have a tragic milestone in Connecticut,” Lamont said at a press conference. “Probably the youngest person ever to die of COVID has died here in Connecticut. That baby was less than 7 weeks old, and it just is a reminder that nobody is safe from this virus.”

But the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told The Epoch Times that the cause of death is still being determined following the baby’s March 27 autopsy.

“At the current time, we have not issued a final cause of death. There are numerous tests that we must do on infant deaths before issuing a final cause of death,” the office said. Those include histology, microbiology, and toxicology testing.

woman tried to take baby
A baby in a file photograph. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

In normal times, it usually takes several weeks to complete all tests. The office didn’t address queries on whether there would be a delay amid the pandemic or whether officials there were concerned about the governor’s early pronouncement linking the baby’s death to COVID-19.

The baby did test positive for COVID-19, the office confirmed.

Pressed on his declaration at a press conference last week, Lamont asked Connecticut State Epidemiologist Matthew Cartter to address the question. Cartter told reporters that public health officials weren’t sure what caused the death of the baby.

“Our definition, what we’re counting at the state health department, is different from what the medical examiner counts. I don’t know the cause of death of this person that you’re about or any of the people, because we don’t determine cause of death,” he said.

“We define laboratory confirmed COVID-19-associated deaths as anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive on a COVID-19 test, before or around the time of death. We do not determine causality.”

Flu surveillance is done the same way, he said.

The Hartford Police Department didn’t respond to a request for comment on the infant’s death.

Epoch Times Photo
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks during SiriusXM Business Radio’s ‘Making A Leader’ Series at SiriusXM Studios in New York City on Dec. 20, 2019. (Bonnie Biess/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Previous Death

COVID-19 primarily affects the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. There was only one documented death caused by the disease among those aged 24 or younger in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That person was between 1 and 4 years old. No other information about the death was available.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said in late March that an infant younger than 1 year old in Chicago tested positive for 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,” state Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “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.”

Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Bureau of Administration, told The Epoch Times that the cause and manner of death of the Chicago infant hasn’t been determined at this time. She declined to answer how long officials think the investigation will take.

One infant death was also reported in China. The 10-month-old with intussusception suffered multiple organ failure and died a month after being admitted to a hospital.

Epoch Times Photo
Medical staff treat COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Wuhan, China on March 19, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Other Clarifications

At least two other deaths reported by U.S. officials as being caused by COVID-19 were later clarified.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said that an 11-year-old boy in the Atlanta area died from the CCP virus.

The department later said the characterization stemmed from an error.

“The reporting facility made an error when electronically submitting information about a death. Upon review of the medical record, the error was corrected,” Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the department, told The Epoch Times via email.

California health officials said a 17-year-old boy died from the illness but later said they’re exploring the situation.

“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,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement.

The death was removed from the county’s list of fatalities from the virus.

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