A teenager in California died from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday, becoming one of the youngest victims in the United States.
The death in Los Angeles County was the first known instance of a minor dying from the coronavirus in the United States. Some states, including New York, which has the most deaths in the country, have not reported the ages of most victims.
Newsom said California lost “a young life, a teenager.” He said half of the 2,102 people who have tested positive in California are between the ages of 18 and 49. “It is a reminder to everyone to take this seriously,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported three deaths linked to the coronavirus, including the teenager, bringing the total number of deaths in the area to 11. Officials said that two people between the ages of 50 and 70, one with underlying health conditions, had also died.
The teenage victim was from Lancaster, California, officials said. They did not provide any more details about whether the person had underlying health conditions.
“Each loss we experience in LA County is tragic, and we are sending our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones who’ve had to endure this tragedy,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “COVID-19 does not discriminate by age, race or income level, and what we are seeing in places like New York is indicative of what we should prepare to experience here.”
Officials said 256 new cases had been reported across Los Angeles County over the last two days, bringing the total number of cases there to 662. In the United States, as of Tuesday afternoon, there have been at least 52,215 cases of coronavirus confirmed by lab tests and 675 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
While the risk of dying is significantly higher in older people, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on nearly 2,500 of the first recorded cases in the United States has shown that younger adults made up a significant portion of coronavirus hospitalizations.
Children are also at risk. In Georgia, a 12-year-old girl who has COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was placed on a ventilator this week. Officials at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she is in stable condition, said the girl remained in isolation.
In a Facebook post, the girl’s cousin, Justin Anthony, wrote that the girl did not have any underlying health issues and that she had initially received a diagnosis of pneumonia. “For those of you that think that kids can’t get COVID-19 … Think Again!!!”
The girl’s family, through a representative, declined to comment beyond the post, saying, “We are hoping for good news soon and for her to make a healthy recovery.”
Jeffrey Ghazarian, a 34-year-old cancer survivor, died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles on Thursday after being hospitalized. He had survived prostate cancer several years ago, and people who have undergone cancer treatments are especially vulnerable to respiratory infections.
Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said there was still not enough data to say what effect the pandemic would have on youth. He said, however, that even in an ordinary flu pandemic, some young, otherwise healthy people get very sick or die.
“Unfortunately, we won’t know if this is that sort of rare tragic event, or a trend, until we have more data,” Morse said. “This one has been unusual in that it doesn’t seem to hit young people in the way that other flu pandemics have.”
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