Medical Examiner confirms: First pediatric death caused by COVID-19 reported in Milwaukee

Alex Hernandez
Posted at 6:18 PM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 16:12:40-04

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Thursday evening that a 14-year-old Milwaukee boy did die due to complications caused by the coronavirus.

This is the first reported pediatric death caused by the virus in Milwaukee. The Medical Examiner's Office says the boy also had acute lymphocytic leukemia and status post bone marrow transplant in 2019. The boy tested positive for the virus in November of last year.

The teen's family identified him as Alex Hernandez.

Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez

The Medical Examiner's Office later tweeted that there was a possibility the boy died due to the coronavirus. The Office then tweeted an hour later that "this death had been ruled 'complications of infection with novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).'"

State data shows there have been two prior COVID-19 deaths between the ages of 10 and 19.

Wisconsin's first pediatric death was a high school student in Madison last November.

To date, 279 children have died of COVID-19, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

A CDC study from last July shows 78 percent of the first 121 pediatric deaths were children of color.

Milwaukee County health officials say they are closely watching an uptick in cases among kids 18 and younger.

"We were averaging for kids about five cases on average over a 7-day period," said Greenfield Health Department Director Darren Rausch. "So an increase of 5 to 15 is certainly significant, but we still are dealing with small numbers."

Rausch said he can only speculate on what is driving the uptick, which he says he thinks could be spring break travel or spring sports. Data shows cases have also been increasing among adults in the county as well.

"The case increase over the last couple weeks is certainly concerning, I don't know if we have cause to sound an alarm yet," Rausch said.

Right now, children under 16 are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer is the only shot authorized for 16-year-olds, but the company announced Wednesday testing shows it is effective in kids as young as 12. The FDA still needs to give approval for that, and it could be about six months before shots go into young children's arms.

This development still comes as welcome news to health experts.

"So this is a big step for us and for our community to really be able to achieve that herd immunity we're talking about, and to bring some normalcy to our children and keep them safe," said Dr. Smriti Khare, the president of primary care at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

State data shows more than 7,600 kids ages 16 and 17 have gotten their first dose of the vaccine.

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