A 4-year-old child from Riverside County died after contracting COVID-19, becoming the county’s youngest virus-related death since the start of the pandemic, public health officials announced Friday.
The child died during the first week of August, but the cause of death was reported this week after confirmation from the coroner’s office, the Riverside County Public Health Department said in a news release.
The 4-year-old did not have underlying health issues, according to the department.
The child was “briefly” hospitalized before dying, according to Public Health Department spokesperson Jose Arballo Jr.
The name of the child and his or her city of residence have not been released.
“This tragedy reminds us that this virus does not discriminate between the young and old,” Dr. Geoffrey Leung, public health officer for Riverside County, said in a written statement. “The death of this child strengthens our commitment to halt this pandemic before the loss of another young life.”
This is the county’s third pediatric COVID-19 death; the other children were 12 and 15 years old, Arballo Jr. said.
The county has reported a total of 4,727 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, the vast majority of which were among residents over 30 years old. There have, however, been a “handful” of teens and young adults who have died from the virus – some with underlying health issues, public health officials said.
In neighboring Los Angeles County, six children died of COVID-19 infection as of early August — two children under 12 years old and four children between the ages of 12 and 17.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, has reported 141 COVID-19 deaths in children between 0 to 4 years old nationwide as of Wednesday.
While pediatric coronavirus hospitalization rates are lower than that of adults, the numbers have surged in recent weeks, reaching 0.41 per 100,000 children ages 0 to 17, compared with 0.31 per 100,000, the previous high set in mid-January, according to the CDC.
“It is simply heartbreaking that COVID-19 has taken the life of someone so young,” Riverside County Supervisor Karen Spiegel said. “This loss reminds us all that protecting those in our community not yet eligible for vaccinations, including children under 12, should be our top priority.”