An infant in Illinois who tested positive for the CCP virus has died, Governor JB Pritzker announced on March 28, marking the first known infant death from the disease in the state and the country.
Pritzker told reporters at a news conference on Saturday that the infant’s death was among the fatalities linked to the new coronavirus over the previous 24 hours, adding, “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 did not give the exact age or medical history of the infant.
The Governor said that he has “learnt from the experts,” that the disease “is rarely fatal in children,” and that “sending home state workers who are non-essential has kept many from contracting COVID-19.” The Governor added that the “drastic and necessary measures Illinois has taken to slow the spread of the disease,” were the right course of action.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, also told reporters that “there has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant,” and that a full investigation is now underway to determine the actual cause of death.
“We must continue to do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us,” Ezike said, adding that older adults are at a higher risk of severe illness, with more than 85 per cent of deaths in Illinois being among individuals aged 60 or over.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preexisting health conditions put people at additional risk of contracting CCP virus. These preexisting health conditions include diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, and being on hemodialysis.
Pregnant women should also be monitored as they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness. To date, data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk. However, Dr. Ezike noted that “people of all ages and people, even healthy, will and have contracted the virus and can develop severe illness including death.”
Governor J.B. Pritzker said he was “deeply concerned” about what is currently happening in New Jersey and New York, which has become the official epicenter of the global pandemic in recent days, and expects Illinois to “reach a peak,” at some point. Pritzker said he wants to know what the state can expect from the federal government because “frankly, so far we haven’t received enough support for what we think we’re going to reach as a height of ICU admissions and hospitalizations.”
As of March 29, Illinois has confirmed 3,491 COVID-19 cases and 47 related deaths.