UMATILLA COUNTY — The Oregon Health Authority has reported the state’s first COVID-19-related death of a child between 0-9 years old — an infant boy from Umatilla County. 

The boy tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 17 and died that same day at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington, according to a press release from OHA on Thursday, Feb. 18. He had unspecified underlying health conditions. 

“Every death from COVID-19 is a tragedy, even more so the death of a child,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, OHA’s health officer and state epidemiologist, said in a press release. “The death of an infant is extremely rare. This news represents a tremendous loss to the mother and family. My thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”

Children who contract COVID-19 are less likely to develop severe symptoms than adults, but they are still at risk, Sidelinger said. The state encourages all parents with children who test positive and develop certain symptoms to seek emergency medical care. 

Those symptoms include troubled breathing, constant pain or pressure in the chest, new feelings of confusion, being unable to wake up or stay awake when not tired and bluish lips or face, OHA said. 

“We have all worked together for nearly a year in Oregon to protect the lives of those we hold most dear,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “The loss of a life so young is an indescribable tragedy for a family. Dan and I send our thoughts and condolences to the mother and family of this child, whose grief must be unimaginable in this moment. The hearts of all Oregonians are with you today.”

Children with certain underlying medical conditions, as well as infants younger than 1 year old, could be at increased risk for developing severe symptoms. Most children who have experienced severe illness from COVID-19 have had underlying medical conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to the CDC as of Feb. 17, 140 reported COVID-19 deaths have come from children and teenagers under the age of 14. 

Only 1.3% of the state’s confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases among children 9 years old or younger required hospitalization, according to the CDC. The state has reported just under 7,000 cases of the virus among children.

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