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Infant dies of COVID, Riverside County’s youngest death from the virus

Riverside County public health officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung.
Riverside County public health officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung. Taya Gray/The Desert Sun
(Taya Gray/The Desert Sun)

A Riverside County infant died this week after contracting COVID-19, the youngest person to die in the county after contracting the virus since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, health officials said Thursday.

The child, who was less than a year old, was taken to a Riverside County hospital after becoming ill and died, the Riverside University Health System-Public Health said in a release.

The child’s gender, name or city of residence were not disclosed, and officials said it was unclear if the infant had any underlying health issues.

Riverside County officials said pediatric COVID hospitalizations made up 4.2% of those hospitalized with COVID last month compared to 2.1% in the months before.

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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.

Previously, the youngest COVID-related death in Riverside County was a 4-year-old child who died in August. A child under 5 died in December in Orange County, health officials there announced this month.

COVID vaccines have not been approved for use in children under 5.

“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the parents, family and others who are impacted by this tragedy,” Geoffrey Leung, public health officer for Riverside County, said in the statement. “This loss reminds us that this virus does not discriminate between the young and old.”

More than 5,600 COVID-related deaths have been reported in the county since the beginning of 2020 with the “vast majority” involving people over 30 although a “handful” of teens and young adults, some with underlying health issues, have also died from the virus.

California’s healthcare system is expected to face continued stress in coming weeks as the Omicron variant spawns new waves of coronavirus infection.

Leung said the death “shows the importance of using the tools available to protect those around us, particularly the most innocent, from the harm the virus can cause.”

“It is devastating to learn about the passing of this infant life,” Jeff Hewitt, Riverside County 5th District supervisor, said in the release. “Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family.

“We have a long road ahead of us as we navigate this pandemic, and it’s the loss of life that reminds us about the challenges we face,” Hewitt added.

The death comes as Omicron continues to ravage the state, with around 100,000 new cases per day reported for the week ending Tuesday.


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