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Orange County reports third COVID-19 death of a child younger than 5

Dr. Clayton Chau speaks at a microphone in front of an Orange County flag
Orange County health officer Dr. Clayton Chau, shown at a news conference last year, said the county’s third COVID-19 death of a child younger than 5 shows “we must continue to do everything we can to protect our loved ones.”
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County officials confirmed Thursday night that a child under the age of 5 died in December of complications from COVID-19.

The announcement comes as cases are climbing in Orange County and throughout California, driven by the Omicron variant.

“We have lost another precious young life to this terrible virus; it is our third pediatric death in Orange County since the start of the pandemic,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s health officer. “This is yet another somber reminder that we must continue to do everything we can to protect our loved ones, especially our little ones under 5 years of age who are not able to be vaccinated.”

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No COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for use in children younger than 5.

Ambulances are waiting longer to offload patients in Orange County, echoing a similar problem in L.A. County as coronavirus infections increase.

The county’s seven-day average for new coronavirus cases jumped from 25.5 per 100,000 residents to 67.5 per 100,000 residents between Dec. 30 and Jan. 5, officials said. The average number of daily cases rose from 822 to 2,179, and the positivity rate increased from 6.5% to 16.2%.

Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions also increased significantly during the same period, with the majority of hospitalized patients being unvaccinated, officials said.

“Cases are reaching levels that we haven’t seen throughout this pandemic,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, deputy county health officer. “We strongly urge our county residents and visitors to please take all preventative measures to reduce your risk of getting sick or hospitalized. Even though breakthrough infections are possible, the most important thing you can do is get vaccinated and boosted to maximize your immunity to COVID-19 and reduce your chance of getting severely infected.”

L.A. County reported 37,215 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday and has recorded more than 174,000 new cases since New Year’s Eve.


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