Updated at 11:55 a.m. Sunday
An infant in Cook County has become the first baby to die in the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s top health official said Saturday.
“Today, we have 465 new cases and 13 deaths, including the tragic death of an infant,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “This is the first death of an infant associated with COVID-19 in the world.”
Ezike added, “A full investigation is underway to determine the actual cause of death.”
On Sunday morning, an official in Ezike’s department said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed this is the youngest death of a person with COVID-19.
A week ago, state officials announced that an infant had the coronavirus. But an IDPH spokeswoman said Sunday the child who died was not the same infant previously reported to have the virus. The spokeswoman said she could not provide any additional information about the baby who died.
Ezike said the infant’s death should prompt skeptics to take COVID-19 more seriously. “If you haven’t paid attention, maybe this is your wake-up call,” she said.
Gov. JB Pritzker began his daily news conference about the pandemic by announcing the deaths of the baby and an employee in his administration, who worked in the Illinois Department of Human Services.
“I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child,” the governor said. “On hearing it, I admit I was immediately shaken. And it’s appropriate for any of us to grieve today.”
Pritzker added, “It’s especially sorrowful for the family of this very small child, for the years stolen from this infant.”
Although the coronavirus outbreak’s victims have ranged widely in age, officials around the world have reported that older people with underlying health conditions are the most susceptible to falling victim to the pandemic.
As of Saturday, 47 people in Illinois have died of COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases stands at 3,491.
In addition to the infant, of the 12 other newly reported deaths in Illinois, officials said two people were in their 90s, two in their 80s, five in their 70s, two in their 60s and one in his 50s.
Pritzker said experts had told him “that COVID-19 is rarely fatal in children.”
And he said, “Sending home state workers who are non-essential has kept many from contracting COVID-19.”
Dan Mihalopoulos is a reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team. State government reporter Dave McKinney contributed to this story.