Illinois health officials announced late Saturday that an infant younger than 1 years old died after testing positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, in Chicago. The infant's cause of death is unknown, but this is the first recorded instance of an infant's death associated with coronavirus in the U.S. Overall, there have been 47 coronavirus deaths and 3,491 cases reported in Illinois as of Saturday.
"There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. "We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us."
Children have made up only a small number of coronavirus cases worldwide, and some infants have tested positive for the virus after birth. Chinese researchers reported earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine that a 10-month-old died after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The infant suffered from organ failure and bowel blockage, and died a month after being hospitalized.
On Saturday, Illinois officials reported 465 new coronavirus cases and 13 new deaths. The ages of cases in the state range from younger than one year old to 99 years old.
White House experts are concerned that Chicago could become one of the next coronavirus hotspots in the country, following New York City. The city had ore than 1,000 confirmed cases by Thursday, reports NBC Chicago.
"We are concerned about certain counties that look like they are having a more rapid increase," Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, said Thursday. "Wayne County in Michigan and Cook County in Chicago."
On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot estimated over 40,000 hospitalizations in the city, warning the crisis would psh the city "to the brink."
"Forty thousand hospitalizations. Not 40,000 cases, but 40,000 people who require acute care in a hospital setting. That number will break our healthcare system," the mayor said. "This will push our city to the brink."
"We are looking at a number of different projections based on modeling being done across the city," Lightfoot added. "That number is real and is sobering."
Like many other cities and states, Chicago and Illinois are both under "stay at home" orders. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a "stay at home" order on March 20 and was implemented the following day, reports the Chicago Tribune. The order bans groups of 10 or more people, closed playgrounds and state parks. People can still go outside, but must keep six feet away from others.
Nationwide, the number of coronavirus cases reached over 120,000 on Saturday, with more than 2,000 deaths reported.
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