A total of 85 babies under the age of one have tested positive for the coronavirus in a single Texas county as of Friday, according to a local health official.
Those numbers were confirmed during a Friday briefing by Annette Rodriguez, director of public health for Corpus Christi, located in Nueces County. She did not elaborate on the conditions of the infants.
CORONAVIRUS: 1,000 TEXAS INMATES TEST POSITIVE IN ONE FEDERAL PRISON, REPORT SAYS
While cases involving newborns are rare, children under the age of one are at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 due to their immature immune system and smaller airways, the Mayo Clinic states. It makes them more likely to develop breathing issues with respiratory virus infections.
“Newborns can become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 during childbirth or by exposure to sick caregivers after delivery,” the medical center said. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends special care for newborns born to women who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19.”
Steps to protect the baby could include temporarily separating the mother and the newborn, monitoring the baby for signs of infection, or testing the newborn for COVID-19 if supplies are available, the association said. The baby’s caregivers are recommended to wear face masks and wash their hands.
A study of more than 2,100 children suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in China between late December and early February showed that just under 11 percent of infants had severe illness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rates of severe or critical illness decreased to about seven percent for children between the ages of 1 to 5. For children over the age of 16, the positivity rate dropped to three percent.
Of the nearly 150,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. between Feb. 12 and April 2, about 2,500 — or 1.7 percent — were in children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
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Meanwhile, physicians in France published a case study earlier this month that strongly suggested a newborn caught the coronavirus before it was born.
Texas has become a major coronavirus hotspot in recent weeks, with hospitals in the state almost at capacity due to an increase in infections. Texas currently has more than 335,000 total COVID-19 cases, which is now the fourth-highest state total, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Deaths have also increased in recent weeks, surpassing 4,000 over the weekend. On May 31, the death total was at 1,678, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported.
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As of Sunday, Nueces County has reported more than 8,579 total coronavirus cases and 95 deaths from the virus, according to data from Corpus Christi.
“Stay social distanced from others,” Rodriguez added. “Stay protected, wear a mask when in public. And for everyone else, please do your best to stay home.”