Illinois Infant Dies After Coronavirus Diagnosis, Could Be Youngest Victim In United States

Ambulances parked in front of an emergency room.
F. Muhammad / Pixabay

An Illinois infant who died after being diagnosed with the coronavirus could be the youngest victim of the virus in the United States.

As 6 ABC reported, officials announced Saturday that the Chicago infant had died following a diagnosis of COVID-19, though medical examiners were still trying to determine the infant’s exact cause of death.

“A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death. 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,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the state’s Department of Public Health.

If the coronavirus was the cause of death, then the infant would be the youngest known victim of the virus in the nation. Despite a surge in cases across the country, the virus has claimed mostly older victims and those with compromised immune systems. As the New York Post noted, the journal Pediatrics studied 2,000 infected children in China and found only one death, a 14-year-old. The study noted that of all children to be infected by the virus, only 6 percent became seriously ill.

Officials in Chicago had not released the exact age or medical history of the infant, whose identity was also not revealed. It was not clear when the medical examination was expected to be completed or when the exact cause of death would be determined.

The infant’s death comes amid a rise in coronavirus cases in the Chicago area and across the state. As the Chicago Tribune reported, there were close to 3,500 cases across the state of Illinois and 47 deaths. During a news update on Saturday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he was particularly shaken by the infant’s death.

“I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child,” the governor said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “Upon hearing it, I admit that I was immediately shaken. It’s appropriate for any of us to grieve today. It’s especially sorrowful for the family of this very small child for the years stolen from this infant. We should grieve… We should grieve for a sense of normalcy we left behind just a few short weeks ago.”

Pritzker had already instituted a “stay in place” order for the state’s residents, closing down all non-essential businesses and advising residents to remain in their homes as much as possible. This week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the order will likely extend “deep into April,” the Chicago Tribune reported.