OKLAHOMA CITY (July 12, 2020) –Late Sunday afternoon, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) sent a news release saying it is saddened to announce Oklahoma’s first COVID-19 related pediatric death and mourns with the family for their tragic loss of a child.
Although privacy must be respected and personal information is not necessary, the OSDH release failed to give any other information such as the age of the child, location, or any other risk factors or information that might have been involved. Shortly after the release from the health department, the Oklahoma State Department of Education offered a comment on the death and the virus. Both statements are included below.
Statement Oklahoma State Department of Health
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of the state’s first child impacted by COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived in Oklahoma. Our prayers are with the family and community as they mourn the loss of a young, innocent life,” said Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye, MD. “As the pandemic continues to tragically impact families in our state, we can remain vigilant to prevent the spread by actively protecting each other.”
Commissioner Frye and the OSDH would like to remind Oklahomans that preventive measures – including frequently washing hands, limiting social engagements and wearing a mask where physical distancing is challenging – are essential actions to take as the threat of the virus remains within our communities.
New Release from Oklahoma State Department of Education
As Oklahoma records a tragic milestone, its first COVID-19-related death of a school-aged child, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister is appealing to Oklahomans to do their part to contain the spread of coronavirus.
“This heartbreaking tragedy underscores how important it is for us all to wear masks when in public, follow social distancing guidelines and practice good hygiene,” said Hofmeister.
“Students need to learn. We want schools to reopen this fall, but for that to happen, it is critical that Oklahomans take decisive actions now to mitigate spread of the virus. Wearing a mask around other people is a small sacrifice for the sake of literally saving lives. We owe it to our children, teachers and staff for them to be able to go to school knowing that strong safeguards are in place for their safety and well-being.”
Hofmeister acknowledged that some parents might find distance learning to be a preferable course of action. She commended many school districts that are providing such options for their families.
“School is vital, especially after the significant learning loss from last spring’s building closures,” she said. “At the same time, we must take every precaution to protect our children and those who serve in schools across this state.”
UPDATE 9:17 pm, July 12, 2020
Several sources on social media indicate the child was a 13-year-old girl near Cache who became ill on Monday and died late Friday. Other information indicates all members of the girl’s family might be ill with Covid-19.