VDH report of first child to die of COVID-19 was ‘human error’


FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, U.S. health regulators OK’d the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – 10 On Your Side has confirmed data showing the first child death in Virginia from COVID-19 was human error.

10 On Your Side reached out to the Virginia Department of Health Friday for more information about the child’s death, which data on the VDH website on May 8 showed occurred in Fairfax County. We received a call back from the Fairfax County Health Department. Their communications specialist Tina Dale told WAVY she checked with their epidemiologist after our inquiry, who confirmed “there has not been a death among a child age 0-9 in Fairfax County.”

Dale said the error occurred when the person entering the data marked it as a death when it should have been in the column showing the number of cases.

She added that the error will be corrected Friday night. When the VDH releases its new numbers Saturday, that pediatric death will instead appear as a case.

Current data shows, as of May 8, 234 people have died from COVID-19 in Fairfax. VDH reports a total of 812 deaths across the state due to coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Although the majority — 417 — of COVID-19 deaths in Virginia have been people who are 80 years or older, some young patients have died from the virus as well, including two people from Northern Virginia who were in their 20s, according to VDH.

VDH reports 377 of coronavirus cases in Virginia are in children younger than 10, and 766 cases are in children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 19.

Again, these numbers are expected to updated and corrected Saturday morning.

Children are not immune to COVID-19, but they are less likely to become hospitalized or die from the virus, according to an April 10 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

17 children under the age of 10 have been hospitalized in Virginia due to COVID-19 — and two of them were hospitalized in Hampton Roads, according to VDH data. These children’s hospitalizations have been reported to VDH by the following health districts:

  • Alexandria: 2
  • Arlington: 1
  • Chesapeake: 1
  • Fairfax: 4
  • Mount Rogers: 1
  • Portsmouth: 1
  • Prince William: 2
  • Rappahannock: 1
  • Rappahannock Rapidan: 1
  • Richmond: 2
  • Thomas Jefferson: 1

17 children and young adults under the age of 20 have also been hospitalized in Virginia due to coronavirus. VDH does not offer any information about which health districts reported these hospitalizations.

The CDC reports that, as of now, there is no evidence to say that children are especially high risk for the virus compared to adults. Although symptoms of the virus are the same in children and adults, children typically present with milder, cold-like symptoms.

“It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs,” according to the CDC.

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