Oregon Boy Dies the Day He Tests Positive for COVID: 'Indescribable Tragedy'

Health officials in Oregon have reported the passing of an infant boy who died on the same day he tested positive for COVID-19.

The boy from Umatilla County died on January 17, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced on Thursday.

The fatality is the state's only documented COVID-linked death among children under the age of nine, The Oregonian reported. Oregon's previous youngest COVID-19 death was a 19-year-old boy from Marion County who died in December 2020.

The infant who died in January had underlying health conditions, the health authority said. No further information about the child has been disclosed.

The child's death was among six COVID-related deaths reported by the health authority on Thursday, raising the state's total to 2,149.

"Today's update on the number of COVID-19-related deaths includes an infant who had tested positive for COVID-19 and died the same day," Dean Sidelinger, OHA's health officer and state epidemiologist, said in a statement.

"Every death from COVID-19 is a tragedy, even more so the death of a child. The death of an infant is extremely rare. This news represents a tremendous loss to the mother and family. My thoughts are with them during this difficult time."

Sidelinger said children infected with COVID-19 are less likely to develop severe illnesses compared to adults.

But "risks still remain to children of developing more severe illnesses from COVID-19, and we continue to encourage all parents to seek emergency medical care for their children if certain symptoms are present," he said.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the hospitalization of children for COVID-19-related illnesses is low compared to adults. Nevertheless, the agency says that children with certain underlying medical conditions and infants younger than one year old may be at increased risk of severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a statement regarding the infant's death: "We have all worked together for nearly a year in Oregon to protect the lives of those we hold most dear."

"The loss of a life so young is an indescribable tragedy for a family. Dan and I send our thoughts and condolences to the mother and family of this child, whose grief must be unimaginable in this moment. The hearts of all Oregonians are with you today."

Health authorities say you should seek urgent medical attention if a child with COVID-19-related conditions begins experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest that doesn't go away
  • New confusion
  • Being unable to wake up or stay awake when not tired
  • Bluish lips or face

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Mother holding a baby's hand in hospital
Stock image showing a mother holding a young child's hand in hospital. Oregon health authorities have reported the death of an infant who test positive for COVID-19. iStock