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California health officials say teenager in Central Valley is first child to die from coronavirus

FRESNO, Calif. – California health officials announced the first death of a coronavirus in the state on Friday, saying the victim was a teenager and had other health conditions.

No further information about the teen was released. The Children’s Hospital in Madeira confirmed that the patient was being treated there before he died.

“The death of this patient reaffirms that children – and there is no age group – are not immune to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the medical facility said in a statement. “It is imperative now, more than ever, that we all work together to prevent the disease from spreading further. Our children deserve no less.”


The death comes as coronavirus cases in Central California have steadily risen over the past few weeks, and local politicians in Fresno County are debating whether children should return to personal education schools.
Valley Children’s Hospital officials have spoken out against children returning to campuses while COVID-19 transmission levels are still high in the area.

The Central Valley is the state’s main agricultural region and has recently become one of the hotspots of the virus in California.

It is extremely rare for children to die from a coronavirus. As of mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that 228 children had died from the disease in the United States, which is less than 0.2% of the nation’s deaths.

In California, the virus has killed more than 9,000 people and three-quarters of those aged 65 and over. Only about 9 percent of California’s confirmed half a million cases of the virus are children, and very few have survived severe enough conditions for hospitalization.

Scientists are still unsure why children do not appear to be as severely affected by the virus as adults.

In March, Los Angeles County officials announced that the 17-year-old had died from the virus. It was thought at the time that this was the first death of a child, but days later local health officials returned the original statement, saying it was possible that he would die from something else. County health officials said the case would have to be assessed by the Centers for Disease Control.

Rex Paris, the mayor of Lancaster, said the boy from his hometown died of septic shock after being admitted to hospital with respiratory problems.

How likely children are to shrink and spread the virus is a key question, as leaders in California and elsewhere are determining whether and how to safely reopen schools this fall. Most counties in California are already on the state’s watch list because of the growing incidence of viruses, and may not reopen human education schools until they are on the list for 14 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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