An infant from southwest Riverside County died this week after contracting COVID-19, becoming the youngest person in the county to die from the virus, health officials announced Thursday.
The child was younger than 1 year old and died earlier this week at a local hospital, where he or she was taken after becoming ill, the Riverside County Public Health Department said in a news release.
The identity of the child is being withheld, as is the city of residence. It is also unclear whether the infant had any underlying health issues.
“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the parents, family, and others who are impacted by this tragedy,” county public health officer Geoffrey Leung, said in a statement. “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 previous youngest death from the virus in Riverside County was a 4-year-old child who died in August.
Health officials say there have been more than 5,600 COVID-19-related deaths in Riverside County since the start of the pandemic. The vast majority of the deaths have involved those over 30 years of age, but there have been a handful of teens and young adults who have died from the virus – some with underlying health issues.
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.