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First-grader in southwestern Minnesota dies of COVID-19

MARSHALL— A young child from southwestern Minnesota has died of COVID-19 complications, according to the state Department of Health.

While coronavirus deaths in children are rare, they can occur even in otherwise healthy children, health officials said.

“Since the start of the pandemic, three Minnesota children under age 18 have died due to COVID-19,” the health department said in a statement.

Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams says the child, who died Sunday, was a first-grader at Park Side Elementary. Williams says crisis team members will be on hand at the school to support those in need, WCCO-TV reported.

Gov. Tim Walz released a statement Monday afternoon in response to the death.

“It is simply heartbreaking to hear that COVID-19 has taken the life of someone so young,” Walz said. “My thoughts are with the Minnesota family grieving the loss of their beloved child. There is no grief more profound than the loss of family.”

Walz’s office said the child did not have underlying health conditions.

According to the school district, 22 students and staff are in quarantine at the elementary school. Williams says they are following guidelines from state health officials and will continue in-person instruction.

Department of Health officials say children under 16 years old are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, so the best approach is making sure those around them are vaccinated, as well as testing, social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands frequently.