Some very disturbing news has emerged from the state of Illinois as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to gain steam.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Saturday that it will pursue an investigation into the death of an infant who tested positive for coronavirus, the first such fatality reported in the United States thus far, the Washington Examiner reports.
Illinois to probe infant death
As anyone who has been following the new coronavirus knows, although the illness has impacted all age groups, it has largely been older individuals who have appeared most likely to succumb or suffer. In Illinois, for example, reports indicate that 85% of the state’s deaths have been individuals 60 or older, according to the Washington Examiner.
Conversely, children have reportedly not suffered the same extent of illness as a result of COVID-19. There have certainly been documented cases of infection in children, but their symptoms have not been as severe as those experienced by other demographic segments of the population, according to NBC News.
These facts make the recent death of an infant in Illinois particularly surprising. Prior to Saturday, no infant had been known to have had succumbed to the illness anywhere in the United States.
Suspicions have therefore been raised by this particular case, which is why the director of the IDPH, Ngozi Ezike, has announced that an investigation into the death is underway.
“There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant,” Ezike said, according to the Examiner. “A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death. 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.”
State’s fatality numbers rise
While all this was taking place, the state of Illinois continued to climb the list of states most heavily impacted by the coronavirus.
Illinois has been seeing an increase of hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, and on Saturday alone, the IDPH announced 465 new infections, according to the Examiner.
After reporting 950 cases on Wednesday, the tally in Illinois had exceeded 3,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 47 deaths as of Sunday. And things, unfortunately, are only expected to worsen, according to at least one public health expert.
“We also see hot spots like Detroit, like Chicago, like New Orleans that will have a worse week next week than what they had this week,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Friday, according to the Examiner.
There is no doubt, though, that for the moment, the people of Illinois — and the entire nation for that matter — will be awaiting additional word on why this particular infant died and whether other babies are at greater risk from the coronavirus than initially believed.