Two Deaths Linked to Rare COVID-19 Related Disease in Children

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy speaks at the press conference where Gov. Jared Polis announced a statewide mask order on July 16, 2020.

Two deaths in Colorado have been attributed to a disorder that's been linked to COVID-19 and that primarily affects children.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment confirmed the deaths and seven cases of the disorder, known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C, in the state. The department declined to release any demographic information about the cases to protect family privacy.

Most cases of MIS-C are in children between ages 1 and 14. The average age is 8 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children who are Latinx or Black have been disproportionately affected nationwide, representing about 70 percent of cases. Slightly more than half of reported cases were male.

The CDC defines MIS-C as involving a person under age 21 showing evidence of inflammation, severe illness requiring hospitalization, with multiple organ systems involved and no plausible diagnoses, as well as a positive current or recent test for SARS-CoV-2 or antibodies for the disease.

Some cases have also reported high fevers for multiple days, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Patients have also had low blood pressure and inflammation of the heart muscle.

In May, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said it's not clear how many children in Colorado would be affected. She suggested that parents call their child’s doctor if their child has any concerning symptoms.

The disease was first reported in Colorado in late May. As of Wednesday evening, three children aged 10-19 have died from COVID-19. There have been no deaths among children aged 0-9 and 11 deaths among young adults aged 20-29.

The Colorado Sun was the first to report the deaths Thursday morning.