Fact check: Has anyone under 25 died from coronavirus?

Posted April 13, 2020 10:50 a.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2020 7:37 p.m. EDT

— Health officials have long said that the novel coronavirus is particularly dangerous for older individuals and people with underlying health conditions.

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made an even more staggering claim, that the virus hasn’t killed anyone under 25 in the United States.

"This particular pandemic is one where I don’t think nationwide, there’s been a single fatality under 25," DeSantis said during an April 9 meeting to discuss reopening Florida schools. "For whatever reason, it just doesn’t seem to threaten kids.

"And we lose in Florida between five and 10 kids a year for the flu. This one (coronavirus), for whatever reason, much more dangerous if you're 65 and plus than the flu, no doubt about that, if you're younger it just hasn't had an impact. So that should factor into how we're viewing this. I think the data on that has been 100% consistent. I have not seen any deviation on that."

This is inaccurate. Florida hasn’t yet reported any deaths of COVID-19 patients under the age of 25, but several Americans in that age group have been killed by the virus.

PolitiFact reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment but did not hear back.

So far, the federal government’s count shows that four people between 15 and 24, and one child between the ages of 1 and 4, have died from the virus.

This is an undercount, because it takes "several weeks" for death records to be processed. Reports by news organizations and various state health departments show more fatalities among younger Americans, though it’s hard to say with precision.

New York state reported that 42 people who were 29 years or younger have died from the virus, as of April 10. Of those, six were 19 or younger and 36 deaths were people between 20 and 29 years old.

A Washington Post investigation identified nine people under 20 who died from COVID-19. The newspaper found 45 deaths of people in their 20s.

All told, death remains rare for young, otherwise healthy people, but these numbers show it can and has happened. Relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized, and they often exhibit milder symptoms, health experts say. Like adults, they can unknowingly spread the disease to others.

PolitiFact: Pants on Fire

PolitiFact ruling

DeSantis claimed that the novel coronavirus hasn’t killed anyone under the age of 25 in the United States.

That’s wrong, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contemporaneous news reports and the counts of state health officials in places like New York. While we don’t have precise numbers, we can say with certainty that deaths in people 25 and under do exist.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

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