CHICAGO — In a somber start to his daily news conference Saturday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced an infant diagnosed with COVID-19 has died.
The child, whose exact age and medical history was not released, is believed to be the youngest person in Illinois whose death has been linked to the coronavirus.
The infant’s death prompted another stern warning from Pritzker and public health officials about the importance of obeying the week-old stay-at-home order.
The infant’s death clearly shook Pritzker, as state officials confirmed 12 other deaths, including a state employee, and 465 new cases. The death toll announced Saturday marks the state’s highest single-day death total since the state began tracking the virus on Jan. 21.
Illinois now has 3,491 total known cases and 47 deaths.
“I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child,” the governor said at his daily news conference Saturday. “Upon hearing it, I admit that I was immediately shaken. It’s appropriate for any of us to grieve today. It’s especially sorrowful for the family of this very small child for the years stolen from this infant. We should grieve. … We should grieve for a sense of normalcy we left behind just a few short weeks ago.
More than 85% of corona-related deaths in Illinois occur in people 60 or older, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, people of all ages are susceptible to the virus, officials said.
The IDPH would not release any additional details about the infant, including whether the child had any underlying medical conditions.
“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,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “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.”
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