ORANGE COUNTY (CBSLA) — The Orange County Health Care Agency has reported their third pediatric death due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The child was reportedly under five years old, thus unable to receive vaccination against the virus.

As Coronavirus cases continue to surge following the holiday season, Orange County is breaking record numbers of cases and hospitalizations to begin 2022. On Thursday the county reported 6,266 new positive cases, including two new deaths from the virus. They also broke their hospitalization record set in the early days of the pandemic in 2020, with 724 patients hospitalized.

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The County last reported a pediatric death in August of 2021, another instance in which the child was under the age of five.

“COVID-19 has been spreading very quickly. Cases are reaching levels that we haven’t seen throughout this pandemic,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “We strongly urge our county residents and visitors to please take all preventative measures to reduce your risk of getting sick or hospitalized. Even though breakthrough infections are possible, the most important thing you can do is get vaccinated and boosted to maximize your immunity to COVID-19 and reduce your chance of getting severely infected.”

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In a study released weekly, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that thus far throughout the pandemic, the United States has seen a tragic 250 deaths for the demographic aged 0-5 years old.

In response to the most recently reported pediatric death, HCA Director and County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau released a statement urging the public to keep everyone in mind while continuing to combat Coronavirus, “We have lost another precious young life to this terrible virus; it is our third pediatric death in Orange County since the start of the pandemic. This is yet another somber reminder that we must continue to do everything we can to protect our loved ones, especially our little ones under 5 years of age who are not able to be vaccinated.”

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Orange County health experts continue to recommend vaccination, getting tested before traveling, wearing your mask and quarantining if you test positive or come in contact with someone who did.