Houston Reports First COVID Death In Healthy Child

Houston Reports First COVID Death In A Child With No Underlying Conditions

Empty bed in a hospital ward
Peter Horrox/Getty

While they’ve had other pediatric deaths, this was the first with no underlying health conditions

Houston health officials have confirmed the city’s first pediatric COVID death of a youth who did not have underlying health conditions.

The Houston Health Department (HHD) announced that a male between ten and 19 died in late July at a hospital. “While he tested positive for COVID-19, it’s currently unknown if he was infected with a variant of the virus,” the statement said. The young man was not vaccinated.

There have been six other pediatric COVID deaths in Houston, but this was the first that didn’t have underlying health conditions.

“This tragedy serves as a reminder that children, even without underlying health conditions, can get seriously ill and die from COVID-19,” said Dr. David Persse, CMO for the City of Houston in the statement. “Getting vaccinated is not only about protecting you, it’s about protecting everyone close to you, especially your family, from serious illness and death.”

This news comes as cases of the coronavirus in children have surged with students heading back to school. The week ending August 19 saw more than 180,000 cases in children, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. “Since the pandemic began, children represented 14.6% of total cumulated cases. For the week ending August 19, children were 22.4% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases.”

Hospital admissions for kids have reached their highest levels since the U.S. started tracking pediatric cases one year ago, peaking at an average of 303 new admissions per day over the week ended Aug. 22, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows.

“We only have maybe six or eight weeks of data on delta and so this picture is going to continue to evolve over time,” said Sunitha Kaiser, a pediatric hospitalist at the University of California, San Francisco. “But from what we can see so far, it’s doing the same thing in our bodies in terms of how the infection works, how it gets in and has similar severity and symptoms to prior strains.”

The Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for children ages 12 and up and the CDC and multiple other health organizations are urging anyone who is eligible and able to receive the vaccine to get it.

“CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19,” the organization said on its website. “Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic.”

“On behalf of the City of Houston, I extend my condolences to the boy’s family during their time of grief,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “The death of a loved one under any circumstance is heartbreaking, especially when we have the power to slow the spread and save lives. I encourage all eligible Houstonians ages 12 and older to get vaccinated and wear a face mask in large crowds or areas where you cannot socially distance.”