Health and Science

Illinois infant with COVID-19 dies, cause of death unknown

Key Points
  • 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.
  • Illinois reported 465 new cases on Saturday and 13 deaths, including a state employee who worked for the Department of Human Services.
Nearly empty roads are seen during the first workday of the statewide "Stay-at-Home" order in Chicago, Illinois, the United States on March 23, 2020.
Joel Lerner | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

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 can 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.

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 were seriously ill.

Illinois reported 465 new cases on Saturday and 13 deaths, 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.

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

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

"We're not waiting of the worst," Pritzker said. "We're preparing ourselves for the worst."

The Illinois State Board of Education late Friday set new guidelines for schools as it seems more likely remote learning and other changes will continue further into the academic year. The board said districts must implement remote learning plans for all schools starting Tuesday. Districts may use online or non-digital learning, such as giving out homework packets, but must find ways to engage students.

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