A teenager in the Central Valley died of causes related to COVID-19, becoming the first juvenile death in California, public health officials announced Friday.
Officials said the teen had underlying health conditions but declined to provide additional information about their age or county of residence, citing patient privacy concerns.
“Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of this young person whose death is a tragic and powerful reminder of how serious COVID-19 can be,” Dr. Sonia Angell, the state public health officer, said in a news release.
No other COVID-19-related death of a person under 18 has been confirmed by the state since the pandemic began. In March, Los Angeles County public health officials announced that a 17-year-old was believed to have died of causes related to the virus but later said more investigation was needed.
The news comes as the Central Valley has emerged as a hot spot for new coronavirus cases in California, accounting for all of the top five counties with the highest number of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times’ statewide coronavirus tracker.
Kern County topped the list, reporting 1,283.3 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days, followed by Colusa County with 768.7, Merced with 651.1, Kings with 599.6 and Tulare with 599.6.
By comparison, Los Angeles reported 379.5 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks.