An infant under the age of 1 has died from COVID-19, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
The child’s death is the first COVID-related fatality among children since the fourth surge of the pandemic began earlier this summer, officials said.
The death was one of 110 reported to the state Wednesday and 249 reported over the last two days. That total includes a record of 139 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday.
“This news is heartbreaking,” said. Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health officer, in a statement. “And it’s a tragic reminder that the numbers we report everyday are also our children, friends and neighbors, and that no one is immune to this virus’ impact.
“The best way we can protect ourselves, our loved ones and young children who are not eligible to get the vaccine is to get vaccinated ourselves and wear a mask. It’s really that simple.”
A child this young has not died from COVID-19 in Louisiana in more than six months, according to LDH officials. To date, 11 children younger than 18 have died from the virus in Louisiana.
On Wednesday, 31 percent of newly reported COVID-19 cases in Louisiana were in children younger than 18. That age group has accounted for 98,190 of the state’s total number of confirmed cases, including 6,146 cases this week.
In a statement, Gov. John Bel Edwards said there were 63 pediatric cases of COVID-19 admitted to the hospital last week, showing the worsening effect the virus is having on younger people.
Edwards reiterated the impact of the Delta variant — which now accounts for all COVID-19 cases in the state — and said it is “more contagious than previous strains of COVID as our strained hospitals prove.”
“Right now, we are seeing younger people hospitalized,” Edwards said. “They are getting sicker than in the previous surge and, unfortunately some of them may die.”
Edwards urged those who are eligible to get vaccinated and encouraged all to mask and social distance. He added, “All Louisianans, regardless of their age or health status, are worthy of our care and attention. Every person lost to this virus, young or old, leaves a hole in the fabric of our communities.”
“Each COVID-19 death in Louisiana has been heart wrenching, but the loss of such a young child, who could not be vaccinated yet, is tragic and a stark reminder of the difficult circumstance we are in throughout Louisiana,” Edwards said.