Pierce County reports first COVID-19 death of person under 20 years old, first in state

Pierce County reported its first COVID-19 related death of a person under the age of 20 years old and the first victim to the virus in the state for this age group, according to a Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department release.

Health officials confirmed on Saturday a South Hill man under the age of 20 has died due to complications with the coronavirus. Officials said the man did not have any pre-existing and underlying health conditions prior to contracting the virus.

“The sad news of this young man’s death reminds us COVID-19 can seriously affect anyone, even someone who is young and healthy,” said Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH. “The disease is everywhere. To drive down the spread and protect our loved ones, we all need to mask up, maintain physical distance, and stay close to home.”

Officials with Tacoma-Pierce Co. health said over the past several weeks, they've seen mostly young adults reporting positive with the virus, particularly those in the 20-39-year-old range. Officials said the age group makes up about 27 percent of the population and approximately 37 percent of COVID-19 cases in the county.

Pierce County has the third-largest reported positive virus cases in the state. As of August 7, Pierce County reported 5,522 confirmed positive virus cases, 625 hospitalizations, and 137 deaths. In Washington state, 61,587 confirmed cases have been reported, 5,890 hospitalizations, 1,672 deaths due to COVID-19. 

Health officials encourage people to continue to wear a mask in public, physically distancing from others, and if possible, to get tested for the virus if included in a "heavily impacted community" such as for American Indian, Alaska Native, Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander communities. 

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee encouraged Washington school districts to strongly consider full-time remote learning for the 2020-2021 school year and cancel all extra-curricular activities as a safety precaution against the virus. 

“This pandemic will continue to grow unless something changes,” Inslee said during a press conference on Wednesday, adding if every school district brought all students back "I believe we would see a dangerous increase of COVID activity.”

Twenty-five of the state’s 39 counties is considered high-risk, meaning there are more than 75 cases per 100,000 people, including all three counties in the Seattle metro area. Many schools in the Puget Sound region have already announced plans to start the year with an online-only model.