Los Angeles County backtracks on teen’s possible coronavirus death

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ROBERT JABLON,

AP

updated on March 24, 2020

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County health officials backtracked Tuesday on their announcement that a child died from coronavirus, saying it’s possible the death was caused by something else.

During their daily briefing, the county health department said the unidentified child from the city of Lancaster was among four new deaths.

Hours later, after Governor Gavin Newsom had cited the death of the teenager as evidence the virus can strike anyone, the county issued a new statement.

“Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality” and the case will need evaluation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the statement said.

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The health department released no details but Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris in the Mojave Desert city told the Los Angeles Times the boy suffered septic shock, a reaction to a widespread infection that can cause dangerously low blood pressure and organ failure. Parris said the boy’s father also has coronavirus and worked in a job where he had close contact with the public.

The teenager didn’t have any preexisting medical conditions, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a news conference.

A report last week by the Centers for Disease Control found no coronavirus deaths in the U.S. among people 19 and under. That age group accounted for less than 3% of all hospitalizations.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday found California cases have topped 2,500, with at least 50 deaths.

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Associated Press writers Adam Beam and Don Thompson in Sacramento, Kathleen Ronayne, Janie Har and Juliet Williams in San Francisco, Christopher Weber, Stefanie Dazio, Brian Melley and Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles and Julie Watson and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

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