Riverside County health officials announced that an infant has died after contracting COVID-19.
The infant was less than one year of age, becoming the youngest person in the county to die from the virus since the start of the pandemic, officials said.
Officials said the death happened earlier this week at a local hospital where the infant was rushed after contracting the virus. The child's name or city of residence will not be released but officials did say the infant was from the south west part of the county.
“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the parents, family, and others who are impacted by this tragedy,” said Dr. Geoffrey Leung, public health officer for Riverside County. “This loss reminds us that this virus does not discriminate between the young and old.”
Leung said the death of the child “strengthens our commitment to end this pandemic before the loss of another young life. It shows the importance of using the tools available to protect those around us, particularly the most innocent, from the harm the virus can cause.”
The county has reported 5,661 deaths caused by the virus since the start of the pandemic.
Officials added that the vast majority of the deaths have involved those over 30 years old. 90% of deaths from February to December were among unvaccinated residents.
Officials said there have been a handful of teens and young adults who have died from the virus – some with underlying health issues. It is unclear at this time whether the infant had any underlying health issues.
“It is devastating to learn about the passing of this infant life. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family,” said Chair Jeff Hewitt, Fifth District Supervisor. “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.”
The previous youngest death in Riverside County was a 4-year-old child from Western Riverside County who died in August.
According to the county, health officials have reported that infants under age 1 might be at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 than older children. This is likely due to their immature immune systems and smaller airways, which make them more likely to develop breathing issues with respiratory virus infections.