Yuma County on Thursday reported the COVID-19-related death of a child from the area. It is the first pediatric death in connection with the coronavirus in Arizona. The child had multiple serious underlying medical conditions, according to a county press release.
The child was originally hospitalized in the Yuma Regional Medical Center before being transferred to Tucson Medical Center, where the child died on Thursday.
The county did not specify the child’s sex, underlying conditions, hometown and age, only noting that the child was under the age of 18.
“We have released everything we can in association with the personal information of the child,” said Kevin Tunell, the county’s communications director.
“It is our deepest regret to share the news of the first COVID-19-related pediatric death in Arizona,” said Diana Gomez, director of the Yuma County Public Health District. “News like this not only resonates within the health community, but with every resident. We are heartbroken and extend our deepest sympathy to the child’s friends and family.”
She noted that to protect the family’s privacy during this “incredibly difficult time,” no further information regarding the child would be released.
This is the second death related to COVID-19 in Yuma County. The county reported 157 positive cases on Thursday, with 9,945 confirmed cases and 450 deaths in Arizona.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, 24 Yuma County residents were hospitalized with the virus. Currently 1,526 Yuma County residents have been tested.
The most common underlying conditions that have increased the severity and risk of death have been diabetes, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Across the country, many cases have occurred in patients older than 65. However, Yuma County has been different in that the majority of cases, or 40%, are in the 20-44 age bracket. Only eight, or 5%, of the positive cases in Yuma County are patients under the age of 20.
The county’s update on Thursday identified 26 cases (17%) in the 45-54 age group, 29 cases (18%) in the 55-65 age group, and 31 cases (20%) in the 65-plus age group.
Health officials continue to reiterate that the best way to prevent the illness is to avoid being exposed. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) with one another. Exposure occurs through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Yuma County recommends the following preventive steps:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Stay at home when you are sick.
• Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with others.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) and immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Wear cloth face coverings, if it can be safely managed, in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
• Maintain physical distancing activity guidance.
• Launder items, including washable plush toys, as appropriate and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
The Illness can be severe and require hospitalization, but most individuals recover by resting, drinking plenty of liquids, and taking pain and fever-reducing medications. These symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
If someone develops emergency warning signs for COVID-19, they should get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include difficulty getting enough air, chest pain, change in alertness or responsiveness, bluish lips or face and rapid breathing. This list is not all inclusive; for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning, people should consult their medical provider.