A baby died of COVID-19 in Louisiana before even reaching their first birthday, state health officials reported on Wednesday.
The Louisiana Department of Health did not disclose the infant’s name, gender or exact age, but said it was the first coronavirus-related death of a child in the state in six months.
“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 circumstances we are in throughout Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.
Thirty-one percent of new cases reported by the state on Wednesday were in people younger than 18 years old, with 63 kids hospitalized in health care centers over the last week alone, state health officials said.
At least 11 children have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, the department said.
State Health Officer Joseph Kanter called the baby’s death “heartbreaking,” and reminded residents that getting vaccinated was the best way to protect against the virus.
“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,” Kanter said.
The state, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, reported the highest number of deaths since the first wave in spring of 2020 – with a majority of deaths in people who’ve yet to be fully vaccinated, The Advocate reported.
There have been 12,226 COVID-related deaths in the state, according to the state.