Minnesota Reports First Infant Death From Coronavirus

Baby in hospital
Infants and children appear to be significantly less susceptible than adults but not immune to developing serious complications or dying due to COVID-19. praisaeng/Getty

Health officials in Minnesota reported the state's first known infant death due to COVID-19, as cases among all residents continued to swell on Monday.

"We're very sad today to report the death of a 9-month-old who tested positive for COVID-19," Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcom said during a news briefing. "Based on what we know at this point, the death appears to be an isolated incident related to this infant's very specific situation."

"A death involving such a young person is tragic and certainly unusual," she continued. "As we understand it, this is one of the youngest deaths reported in the country to date. In order to better understand the situation, we've asked CDC to do some additional analysis."

Officials said the infant did not have any known underlying health conditions, adding that they would not release any further information to the public over privacy concerns for the child's family.

Minnesota reported 922 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, including 4 new deaths, which Malcom called "sobering but not a surprise." A total of 47,107 cases and 1,545 deaths have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. Cases have skewed younger recently, with the median age in the state now being 37.

The vast majority of deaths due to the virus have been among older adults. No confirmed deaths had been reported in patients under the age of 19 until Monday and only two were in those aged 20-29.

"An infant death is devastating... thankfully there have not been a lot of infant deaths in the country" said MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann.

While COVID-19 deaths are exceedingly rare among infants and very rare among all children when compared to adults, experts caution that as the virus continues to rapidly infect more people throughout the U.S., more cases among young children are likely, including the possibility of more deaths.

In Texas, currently one of hardest-hit states in the country, health officials reported that 85 infants in a single county have tested positive for the virus during July. One of the children died, while nine others were hospitalized. Officials are investigating to confirm whether the death was caused by the virus.

Medical experts have repeatedly stressed that contracting the virus is not-risk free for anyone, including children of any age. One serious complication that can occur among children is multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, a life-threatening condition that has afflicted hundreds of U.S. children despite being relatively rare.

The degree to which children are able to spread the virus to others is also unclear, although children under the age of 10 are widely believed to be less contagious. However, results from a large South Korean study released days ago suggested that many school-age children, those 10 or older, are likely to be at least as contagious as adults.

Newsweek reached out to the Minnesota Department of Health for comment.