2-month-old in Michigan dies from COVID-19 complications

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — A 2-month-old died from complications related to COVID-19, according to the state's top doctor on Wednesday.

Circumstances of the child's death were not immediately detailed by the state, but Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun acknowledged the death of the young infant while noting about 800 children across the United States have been diagnosed with multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. 

"Studies show that while children are less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, they still can," Khaldun said during a press conference Wednesday. "And they can also pass it on to others including adults who are more likely to get sick or ill from COVID-19." 

The 2-month-old was the youngest COVID-19-related fatality reported to the state so far, and the only child younger than 1 in Michigan to have died from the virus.

In April, Skylar Herbert, a 5-year-old from Detroit, died from complications related to COVID-19. Skylar was admitted into Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak on March 29. She developed meningoencephalitis, which caused her brain to swell, and was put on a ventilator on April 4, where she remained for two weeks before her death.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately provide further details regarding the 2-month-old child, citing confidentiality concerns. As of Sept. 12, 20 children younger than the age of 1 nationwide had died of the virus, 14 between the ages of 1 and 4, 30 between the ages of 5 and 14, and 333 between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the CDC.

Michigan's health department noted it had reported 25 cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent months, and 41 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Kawasaki disease since March 1. Several other possible cases of MIS-C are under investigation, said Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for the department. 

Both diseases have been associated with exposure to or contraction of COVID-19, according to the CDC. 

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children can cause a child two to four weeks after COVID-19 onset to experience symptoms of shock, gastrointestinal issues, inflammation and cardiac problems, according to an Aug. 14 report from the CDC.

Kawasaki disease includes symptoms of rash, fever, eye irritation and swelling of hands, feet, lymph glands, mouth and throat, according to the CDC. Some of the multisystem inflammatory syndrome patients whose condition was believed to have been linked to COVID-19 also had symptoms overlapping with Kawasaki disease, the CDC said.

Nationwide, children made up about 7.3% of COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 3, but comprised 22% of the U.S. population. The number of kids testing positive for the virus increased from March to July, even as the hospitalization rate for youth COVID-19 cases remained low, according to the CDC.

Henry Ford Health System has had no cases of Kawasaki disease, nor seen a higher prevalence of COVID-19 cases or deaths among pediatric patients, according to health system spokesman Jeff Adkins.

On Wednesday, Michigan added 680 cases and 11 deaths from COVID-19. The additions bring the state's total number of cases to 113,863 and the death toll to 6,623.

With probable cases included, Michigan has had 124,969 cases and 6,932 deaths, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The state, meanwhile, has recorded five new outbreaks in K-12 schools as of Sept. 10. Data also show that seven new outbreaks have come from social gatherings and nine from colleges and universities in the state.

Khaldun's comments came during a press conference Wednesday largely centered on informing Michigan residents about voting options in the midst of directions, with both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson encouraging confidence in the state's voting processes.

Benson and Whitmer have encouraged voters to mail in or drop off absentee ballots instead of voting in person in order to decrease the risk of COVID spread. More than 2.3 million people had requested absentee ballots in Michigan, up from the record 1.6 million people who voted by mail in the Aug. 4 primary. Benson said Wednesday that she expected upward of 5 million people to vote Nov. 3.