A Stafford County boy has become the second child in his age group in Virginia to die from COVID-19.
The death was reported Thursday on the Virginia Department of Health website. The boy was Latino and age 9 or under, according to demographic information. The state is not releasing any other information to protect the family’s privacy.
To date, two children up to age 9 are among six young people, up to age 19, in Virginia to have died from the virus since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to the state health department.
“We were extremely saddened to learn of the loss of a child in our district due to COVID-19 and on behalf of RAHD, I want to extend our sincerest condolences to the child’s family,” said Dr. Olugbenga Obasanjo, district director. “Sadly, this tragic event highlights that COVID-19 is still circulating within our communities, and we all have a responsibility to continue to do all that we can to protect those who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. This includes all of the rest of us getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The state’s first death of a young child occurred in March 2021 in the Chesterfield Health District, which includes Colonial Heights and the counties of Chesterfield and Powhatan.
On Thursday, Dr. Norm Oliver, the state health commissioner, extended “condolences to the family of this child in this time of great loss. We have made so much progress in these past months against this virus, but a tragic event like the death of this young child is a stark reminder that our work continues.”
Oliver noted that the more contagious delta variant is now the most predominant strain across the country and urged anyone age 12 and older who is eligible to get vaccinated.
“Even as many of the restrictions of the past year on gathering and mask-wearing are no longer in place, we urge everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and those around them,” Oliver said.
There have been 335 deaths of children in 43 states, New York City, Puerto Rico and Guam, according to a July 1 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. States do not report ages of children in a uniform way, so there may be some inconsistency in the totals.
Some states have one category for birth to age 14 while others extend the age to 17, 18 or 19.
Virginia divides its report by decades, listing ages 0–9 as one category, 10–19 as another, then people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and so on.
The joint report by pediatricians and Children’s Hospital noted that, even when young people up to age 19 are categorized as children, they make up about 0.06 percent of all deaths. Eight states in the report had no deaths among children.
But statistics are little consolation to the parents and families who lose a child to COVID-19—or any disease, for that matter.
While most children who get COVID-19 have mild cases or present no symptoms at all, youngsters with underlying conditions are more likely to have a severe illness from the virus, just like adults. Those conditions include asthma or chronic lung disease; diabetes; genetic conditions; sickle cell disease; heart disease since birth; medical conditions or being on medications that weaken the immune system; multiple chronic conditions; or obesity.
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Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425