As the number of coronavirus cases surges in Nueces County, Texas, officials have sought to emphasize that no one, not even children, are immune from the virus. In fact, county officials confirmed Friday that 85 babies had tested positive for COVID-19 in Nueces County since testing first began there in March and at least one infant has died.
"We currently have 85 babies under the age of one year in Nueces County that have all tested positive for COVID-19," Corpus Christi Nueces County Public Health Director Annette Rodriguez said Friday during a coronavirus press briefing. "These babies have not even had their first birthday yet. Please help us to stop the spread of this disease."
As of early Monday, Texas has reported more than 325,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 4,000 deaths, according to data from the state's Department of Health Services. More than 8,400 of those cases stemmed from Nueces County, where CNN has reported cases began to skyrocket earlier this month. Nueces County is now considered to be one of Texas' coronavirus hot spots, according to the Texas Tribune.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Rodriguez did not elaborate about any of the 85 infants' conditions or provide details about when the babies contracted the virus. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales later released a statement clarifying the county was not reporting a recent influx of COVID-19 positive babies, but rather had seen a cumulative 85 infants under the age of 1 test positive for coronavirus since mid-March.
"For context, the spokesperson was using that statistic to illustrate that no one is naturally immune to this virus," Canales said in the statement. "While the elderly and those with existing medical conditions are at greater risk of illness and death, anyone can get the virus, from the elderly to infants, and without regard to race, gender, or economic status. The number was used to illustrate this point."
While health experts believe children are more likely than adults to exhibit only mild symptoms when infected with the novel coronavirus, they're certainly not immune to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned newborns and babies under 12 months of age may have a higher risk of experiencing severe illness as a result of the virus than older children. According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 among infants include fever, lethargy, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, feeding intolerance, runny nose, and rapid or labored breathing.
In a statement released Saturday, Canales said that one child under the age of 1 had died in the county. "That child was brought to the hospital with unrelated symptoms and tested for COVID-19 while at the hospital," Canales said. "The child later died at home." County officials are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the child's official cause of death.
News of Nueces County's COVID-19 positive infants follows a Texas Tribune report from earlier in July, which revealed that 307 children and 643 staff members had contracted COVID-19 at 668 child care centers across Texas. In an effort to slow the rising number of infections among children, Texas officials have re-instituted emergency rules for child care centers, including mandatory temperature checks.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.