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Illinois infant with COVID-19 dies; exact cause of death unknown

A woman walks in front of NorthShore Skokie Hospital in Illinois on Friday.
(Associated Press)

An Illinois infant with COVID-19 has died, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday. The cause of death is unknown, and an investigation is underway.

A state employee also was among 13 new deaths reported Saturday as Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged people to do all they could to prevent the spread of the virus.

“If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call,” Ezike said.

The risk of death and severe illness from COVID-19 is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. In most cases, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization.

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Children have made up a small fraction of coronavirus cases worldwide. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Chinese researchers earlier this month reported the death of a 10-month-old with COVID-19. The infant had a bowel blockage and organ failure, and died four weeks after being hospitalized.

Separate research published in the journal Pediatrics traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year old. The study found less than 6% of children became seriously ill with the virus.

Meanwhile, Illinois reported 465 new cases on Saturday, including a state employee who worked for the Department of Human Services. Six of the deaths, including the infant, were in Cook County, which includes Chicago. The others were in counties surrounding Chicago: McHenry, Kane, Lake and Will. Other than the child, a McHenry County man in his 50s was the youngest person to die.

The new numbers bring Illinois’ total cases to 3,491, including 47 deaths, in 43 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The state said 25,429 people had been tested as of Saturday afternoon.

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Pritzker urged people to follow his stay-at-home order and practice social distancing when outside the home. He said new shopping procedures would be starting, such as announcements in stores reminding shoppers to keep 6 feet apart and a temporary ban on reusable bags.

He also said McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago would serve as Illinois’ first “field hospital.” On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers’ commander, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, told reporters the corps was setting up beds to accommodate about 3,000 patients at the convention center and would be ready by April 24.

“We’re not waiting for the worst,” Pritzker said. “We’re preparing ourselves for the worst.”


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